Former Bell mayor skips local gala set to honor him, protesters go home empty handed

What an ungracious guest. When someone throws a party for you, you should probably show up. In the classic words of the formidable scholar Stephanie from Full House “How rude.”

You see, the former Bell Mayor George Cole is under investigation by the California Attorney General’s Office for some dealings he had while he was mayor. He was also on the City Council when it voted to change its charter that allowed allowed all those bloated salaries.

Anyway, apparently Montebello’s Housing Development Corporation think highly of Mr. Cole and wanted to honor him for his community work.

But Cole skipped the gala. He probably had a head cold or something. It probably didn’t have anything to do with the media there or the angry protesters that were waiting for him outside. Of course not.

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Ron Artest is a tall man, Grace Napolitano is … lets say she is not quite as tall a woman (Picture)


I don’t know what Ron said that was so funny, but from all the way down there I am surprised Congresswoman Grace Napolitano heard it.

I kid, I kid.

This was the Congresswoman with the Lakers star at their mental health assembly at a Montebello school Thursday. Rep. Napolitano isn’t known for her … shall I say … lengthy physique, but Artest makes her look like a character from Gulliver’s Travels. The man is a GIANT.

P.S. – Fake captions for this photo are encouraged in the comment section below.

(Double P.S. – No offense intended toward the Congresswoman. We appreciate the photo!)

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Ron Artest speaks at Montebello school, thanks his psychiatrist (again)

L.A. Lakers champ and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, visited Eastmont Intermediate School to talk to children about accessing mental health services and battling stigmas associated with seeking help, they said. Artest was greeted with loud cheers.

Artest told about 700 5th-to-8th graders about challenges he faced growing up in Queens after his parents divorced when he was 13. He said he sought counseling to help him deal with anger and hold his marriage together. Unlike in previous public appearances, Artest was wearing all his clothes, button-down but casual in a sports coat and jeans.

Napolitano, a long-time promoter of mental health services, revealed some of her own personal struggles when she acknowledged she was molested as a small child.

“At that time, nobody talked about it. This was a big secret,” she said after the presentation.

Afterward, Napolitano and Artest moved to a room off to the side of the stage where media could interview them. Artest was so tightly cornered by about 10 news cameras and reporters that I at first had trouble finding the 6’7″ athlete. But he was gracious with everyone and slipped out a side door after about 15 minutes of taking questions.

(via reporter Bethania Palma Markus)

UPDATED: Four words: Ron Artest. Montebello. Thursday.


OK, maybe you need like a time and place, oh and the reason world champion Los Angeles Laker and game 7 hero Ron Artest is going to be in Montebello tomorrow.

Apparently, he has teamed up with Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (no, really, I’m serious) to raise awareness about mental health stigma’s and advocate for the Mental Health in Schools Act, a.k.a. HR 2531.

Those who watched the Lakers beat the Celtics in this year’s NBA Finals remember Ron thanking his psychiatrist in his post game comments.

Ron Ron and Grace Grace (not working for ya?) will be at Eastmont Intermediate School at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept 9. (I screwed up an earlier post and said this was tomorrow. It is a week from tomorrow.)

Sorry sports fans, space is limited and they are only accepting those who R.S.V.P. first.

Sorry if I teased you.

UPDATED: Nathan Landers, spokesman for Napolitano, tells me that the Montebello school involved is already practicing some of the mental health items that are proposed in the bill. Apparently, the Congresswoman started the health program there previously.

Also, apparently we are friends with NBC sports. Nice.

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Montebello hires former Santa Paula city manager for interim job

I missed this yesterday. Apparently, Montebello named a new city administrator (the same as a city manager. Why cities decide to go with different names I have no idea).

Peter Cosentini will take the (interim) post in what he dubbed “a serious fiscal situation.”

A quick Google search of Cosentini shows he was formerly the City Manager of Santa Paula and was working for Pico Rivera’s John Herrera.

In his new gig, he will be bringing in $17,500 a month.

(UPDATED) Montebello embraces the red tape before divulging employee’s salary

Whittier Daily News reporter Bethania Palma Markus told me a neat little story today (it was surprisingly not cat/kitten related*).

In our continued effort to give a broad look at city employee salaries, I am writing a piece on City Clerk salaries that you can look for this weekend.

Bethania was helping me out by giving a quick call over to Montebello to check for their Deputy City Clerk’s salary.

But she ran into some resistance.

She called and spoke with Janina Medrano and requested, verbally, the salary for the Deputy City Clerk. Medrano said Bethania had to submit a public records request for the information. When Bethania tried to explain that a verbal request constitutes a formal request and the information should be readily available, Medrano said city policy dictates all requests must be in writing.

Bethania said she would speak to the city attorney regarding that policy. Medrano then quickly said goodbye and hung up the phone.

Transparency at its finest.

*Bethania Palma Markus loves cats/kittens and reminds us of their charm and beauty whenever she can.

UPDATE: Just got this from Bethania.

“Hi Daniel, so as I said I spoke with Montebello City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman about the public records request policy and this is what he said:

There is no written policy regarding the obligation to put public records act requests in writing, however it’s been the practice of the city to request that the public record act requests be put in writing
-To document the request
-To respond in a timely fashion
-To make sure records are disclosable.

“It’s been a practice of the city which is currently under review and evaluation,” he said.

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Montebello City Administrator, Police Chief both suddently resign


I have no idea what is going on in Montebello, but some intriguing stuff went down Wednesday night.

The Interim City Administrator and the brand spanking new Police Chief both left their posts. Neither had comment.

MONTEBELLO – Interim City Administrator Randy Narramore and new Police Chief Ken Rulon left their posts with the city Wednesday night.

Narramore was appointed in December to run the city after former Administrator Richard Torres retired. He also served as interim police chief after former Chief Dan Weast left in January under pressure from the City Council.

Rulon was hired this week to replace Narramore as police chief and began his duties on Tuesday.

Narramore declined to comment Thursday, deferring to City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, and Rulon didn’t return phone calls seeking comment.

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Ron Calderon’s interesting goodbye


This tale comes from reporter James Wagner:

There’s a difference between reporting politics locally and covering it in Sacramento.

On the Senate floor, to get a legislator’s attention, you hand the guards your business card and they pass it along to whom you’re hoping to talk to.

So last week, while covering a bill that would essentially allow the proposed NFL stadium in Industry to proceed, I asked to speak to a local Senator who co-authored the bill, Ron Calderon, D-Montebello.

Calderon came to the back of the Senate chamber to speak to me with my card in hand.

But after a few minutes of questioning, as we stood quietly while I jotted down his comments, he took my card, stuffed it into my jacket’s front pocket and walked away.

I guess he thought I was done asking my questions. I wasn’t.

Leftovers column

Here ya go….

The race for the 57th District Assembly seat is heating up.

Baldwin Park Councilwoman Monica Garcia is the latest candidate to throw her name in for the June 2010 primaries.

She joins a growing list of local politicians vying for the seat, which comes open when state imposed term limits catch up to incumbent Democrat Ed Hernandez.

Besides Garcia, La Puente Mayor Louie Lujan, West Covina Mayor Roger Hernandez and West Covina Councilman Steve Herfert have all filed statements of an intent to run for the seat, according to documents filed with the California Secretary of State.

Garcia, 34, said people have been encouraging her since last year to run for the 57th District. She made her decision last month.

“I know that right now is a critical time for our state and even more so for our district, for the 57th,” Garcia said. “I want to go up to Sacramento and make sure our district is getting its fair share.”

Garcia said she has always been an advocate for “working-class communities,” and has spent about a decade working in public service.

“I want to make sure the working families I’ve served over my career — over 10 years, children, seniors — I want to make sure they are protected and we take a sustainable approach to balance the budget,” she said.

Garcia was elected to the Baldwin Park City Council in 2007, and served on the city’s Planning Commission prior to that.

She has also worked for state Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, has spent time working with inner-city youth while attending USC as undergraduate student, and has worked in Washington, D.C., with a group advocating for women, children and families, Garcia said.

“I really have committed myself since college to serving populations that are disadvantaged,” she said.

Montebello City Councilwoman Kathy Salazar is a woman who is willing to fight for what she believes in.

Salazar passed up the chance to settle a lawsuit with the city for $25,000 because she wanted her name — and only her name — on a city plaque.

Salazar first filed the lawsuit against the department, the city and former Police Chief Garry Couso-Vasquez in 2007, claiming she was wrongfully booted from the Citizen’s Patrol Unit.

Reporter Amanda Baumfeld got a hold of court documents last week and reported that Salazar’s demanded $25,000; reinstatement into the unit; and recognition as its sole founder.

But the city wanted to list her on a plaque as the group’s co-founder — and Salazar wasn’t having it.

“The city kept saying, ‘no, no, no,’ and the price kept going up, up, up,” Salazar told Baumfeld. “We went to mediation three times because I just wanted to finish this.”

Under the latest settlement agreement, Salazar would be awarded $130,000 — $80,000 of which would go to her attorney — she would be reinstated into the Citizen’s Patrol Group and recognized as the sole founder.

Her only problem now is Couso-Vasquez, who has said he would rather go to trial then agree to the settlement.

Montebello Councilwoman could have settled lawsuit against the city she’s elected to represent for $25,000. She ended up with $130,000

Here’s a councilwoman who is willing to fight for what she believes in…

Monetary demands in Montebello settlement increase over wording on plaque
By Amanda Baumfeld, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/15/2009 08:19:03 PM PDT

A $130,000 lawsuit filed by City Councilwoman Kathy Salazar could have been settled for $25,000, but the parties could not agree on the wording for a city plaque, according to court documents obtained Wednesday.

Claiming she was wrongfully booted from the Citizen’s Patrol Group, which is administered by the Police Department, Salazar filed the suit in 2007. She named the city and former Police Chief Garry Couso-Vasquez as defendants.

Before her November 2007 re-election to the council, Salazar asked for $25,000, reinstatement into the patrol group and to be recognized as its sole founder, according to a statement of facts filed by the city and agreed to by both sides.

The city wanted to list her

The settlement agreement and other court documents describing the negotiations on a plaque as a co-founder, according to the documents.
“The city kept saying, `no, no, no,’ and the price kept going up, up, up,” Salazar said. “We went to mediation three times because I just wanted to finish this.

“It was important to me to be named as founder and to be reinstated. The money thing was for the attorney.”

Under the latest settlement agreement drafted June 29, Salazar would be awarded $130,000, reinstated into the Citizen’s Patrol Group and recognized as the sole founder.

Salazar would get $50,000, and $80,000 would go to her attorney, Michael McGill of Lackie, Dammeier and McGill. The firm also represents the Montebello Police Officers Association.

Read more.