Leftovers sneak peak

Once again, this week’s Leftovers column:

***As a note, Monday’s column was written as a first-person narrative by Jennifer McLain. In it, she talks about her recent move from West Covina to Monrovia. That’s right, now we both live in Mayberry, er, the All-American City.

I’ve lived in West Covina for the past two years, and half of the time I spent complaining about it.

After all, what does West Covina have to offer a person in their twenties?
Sure, it has great freeway access, Big League Dreams and the city is home to the Tribune’s headquarters.

But there’s no ocean, no downtown and nowhere to go out on a Saturday night.
I learned to make do, but after my house was robbed twice, a friend’s car window was smashed in on my street and I was awakened nightly by the sound of cop cars and helicopters, I had enough of the “Hub of the San Gabriel Valley.”

That was, until I moved to Monrovia last week.

I remembered reading in the paper that Monrovia had its share of gang violence since December, but since I lived in West Covina I never really read with interest.

So I figured that the little haven I found on Royal Oaks Drive would finally give me what I wanted.

It was close to downtown, it was within walking distance to hiking trails, and there were national grocery stores within blocks of my house.

What were the chances that I would stumble on a neighborhood that was in the center of gang violence?

Turns out, those chances were pretty high.

I knew something was wrong the day I started moving in my things and I noticed a pair of towering flood lights shining down on a home in the 500 block on Royal Oaks Drive in Monrovia.

Equally strange was the day I came home from work only to see a group of kids that were playing in the street scatter when a low-flying helicopter ambushed our neighborhood.

And even more absurd was when I was carrying boxes from my car to my house, and I overheard a boy who looked to be about 8 years old say to his friend, “Bang, bang. I shot you, bro.”

That’s when I started researching my new street — although I realize that I should have done this before I moved in.

On Royal Oaks Drive, there have been two drive-bys, including one as recently as July 12.
Sheriff’s Temple Station Capt. Richard Shaw said that the towering floodlight, which shines into my window, is there to scare away gang members. Great.

Around the corner, there have been three other drive-by shootings since December, and all of the victims were Black and believed to have been targeted by Latinos.

My heart sunk when I realized that I moved into the middle of a race war, and it was at that point that I was really missing West Covina.

I’ll take a robbery over a drive-by any day.

Then again, my neighborhood in West Covina certainly had its share of issues.

But all neighborhoods do.

As much time as we spend reporting on the crime that occurs in cities throughout the San Gabriel Valley, we also see neighborhoods overcoming the violence and developing a sense of community.

I’m hoping for the same in Monrovia.

Rumor control

I was just checking the city of Monrovia’s rumor control blog – they’ve become very popular among municipalities lately, Covina’s got one too – and I noticed this little bit of information:

Trader Joe’s corporate headquarters is not considering a move from the community, contrary to a rumor that began circulating here last week. A check with executives at the company has confirmed that no such move is under consideration.

Phew! That would have been tragic….

Meanwhile, city spokesman Dick Singer has not addressed reporter Nate McIntire’s article on the Monrovia Police Department, or an alleged shouting match that Singer was involved in Thursday.

Tensions high in Monrovia

Star-News reporter Nate McIntire was in the right place at the right time it seems as he was awaiting the start of a press conference in Monrovia today that was supposed to address a shooting that happened Saturday.

Apparently, the press conference didn’t happen, and McIntire told Frank Girardot that organizers said there would be no press conference until the ‘real media’ arrived.

McIntire also told Girardot that right when he was about to leave, Monrovia spokesman Dick Singer apparently got into a bit of a shouting match with one of the organizers over whether or not Saturday’s shooting victim was a gang member.

We’re told a cop came by and Singer eventually drove off.

Feisty.

Finally…..

It’s not official yet, but Star-News reporter Nathan McIntire reports today that the Monrovia Police Officers’ Association “has reached a preliminary agreement on a new five-year labor contract with the city.”

Looks like union members voted for the proposal in the last week, which includes a 22 percent raise for officers over five years. That’s a whole lot more than what other law enforcement agencies got in their contract negotiations recently.

The contract still has to be approved by the City Council, but it looks like smooth sailing from here.

Mayor credit cards welcome…

11475-gasstation.jpgI stopped for gas last night at a 76 station on Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia (FYI, it took about $55 to fill up my little Hyundai Elantra with gas….)

As I was waiting there, while my gas was pumping, I noticed a peculiar thing on the electronic credit card screen: ”ALL MAYOR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED”

Chuckle, chuckle….

Not again…

Poor Monrovia…..

Monrovia cop sues city
Article Launched: 06/26/2008 12:57:13 PM PDT

MONROVIA – A Monrovia police officer has filed a lawsuit against the city alleging he was harassed and retaliated against for cooperating in a previous racial discrimination case against the Monrovia Police Department.

Matthew Donald Thompson said he provided statements supporting the claims of racial discrimination and harassment filed by Glenn Cobb, a former Monrovia police officer who sued the department in 2006.

Cobb settled with the city, which admitted no liability, in November 2007.

After Thompson submitted a written statement detailing the harassment that Cobb was subjected to, the complaint says, he was himself harassed by the city and the police department.

Thompson says he was unfairly placed on a work contract shortly after his involvement in the Cobb investigation. Later, when he went on medical leave, the complaint alleges he was denied workers compensation benefits and was forced to take unpaid time off.

An amended complaint to Thompson’s lawsuit, originally filed in March, was submitted to the court on Monday.

‘Distraction from the truth’

Foothill Cities Blog calls last night’s presentation by the Monrovia Police Department to the City Council as nothing more than a dog and pony show. Among the statements made on the blog:

- Interestingly, (Chief Roger Johnson) added that “headlines are a distraction from the truth” and that a ‘focus on headlines’ creates mediocrity, distrust and poor morale. Having met with numerous MPD officers in recent weeks, I’d have to say the department already has the last two, and is in danger of achieving the first.

Negotiations around the corner for Monrovia PD and city?

I spotted this brief on our Web site today. There is also some interesting speculation on Foothill Cities Blog about what else to expect at tonight’s council meeting.

From the Tribune:

MONROVIA – City officials and Monrovia Police Officers Association (MPOA) representatives plan to meet Wednesday to resume contract talks, with association officials reporting Monday that the two sides could be close to an agreement.

Dieter Dammeier, an attorney representing the MPOA, said talks between the union and the city are “moving in a positive direction.”

Police are seeking raises they say will put Monrovia officers on par with what police in surrounding San Gabriel Valley cities receive in salaries and benefits. Earlier this year, however, after talks broke down, the city imposed a retroactive contract on its officers.

But Dammeier said Monday a tentative agreement could be in the works and could be agreed upon as early as this week.

News of the weird

What a freaky Friday the 13th event.

During a round of cop calls today, reporter Brian Day said that a casket fell into an open grave during a funeral at a Monrovia cemetery, and then the body popped out of the casket. Obviously, mourners were freaked out. I don’t blame them.