Chang in D.C.

Diamond Bar Mayor Ling-Ling Chang concluded her ad-hoc remarks quickly Tuesday night, saying she was catching a red-eye flight to Washington D.C.
Today, her Facebook page indicates she’s checked into the Prime Rib restaurant in our nation’s capital for lunch with Rosemead Mayor Steven Ly.
Chang said she was going to help attract funding for the “57/60 (freeways) confluence” project.
I’ll think of them the next time I’m changing lanes in the confluence of death, the other name given for where those two freeways come together in Diamond Bar. I’ll be there tomorrow night.

Weekend recap (for those of you who were also sick Monday, making Tuesday more of Monday than Monday was, get it?)

I’m a little late getting this up (just a whole day) but here are some of the stories you missed this weekend (and maybe Monday too, I know I did). I was out sick Monday, so Tuesday is the official start of my week. Anyway, weekend in review is upon us, in case you were worried.

The defense talks about the Manling Williams hung jury and what this decision means for the future punishment of the convicted killer. (Don’t forget about the discussion of the death penalty at this earlier blog post. Note: sometimes peddling my own blog posts to garner readership makes me feel guilty. And sad.)

Everybody’s favorite: A water board story (not water boarding, water board.) Some long time members of the San Gabriel Water Quality Authority have left, forcing a lot of changes.

And Rosemead School District board members may raise their stipends 5 percent. They currently make between $262.55 and $266.72 per month.

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More comparisons between Azusa mining issue and Rosemead Wal-Mart

While researching this story comparing a referendum in Azusa of Vulcan Materials Co.’s new amended mining plan versus Rosemead residents earlier failed attempt to stop a Wal-Mart in the city, there were some other interesting parallels that I stumbled across.

Community groups filed lawsuits against the Wal-Mart projects’ environmental impact report for being incomplete, much like Duarte’s lawsuit against the Azusa Rock Quarry plan’s EIR, claiming it is insufficient.

A judge agreed that Wal-mart’s EIR was incomplete, but the ruling only stalled the project.

What I found most interesting was the Rosemead council came under fire for having an emergency vote to grant Wal-Mart a certificate of occupancy, something opponents said violated the Ralph M. Brown Act’s open meeting laws.

Azusa is facing similar claims after an urgency vote to reconsider the mining plan. The council had originally voted against it, but later voted to bring it back for a second vote at a council meeting without putting the item on the agenda. Duarte’s lawsuit includes alleging Azusa violated the Brown Act.

In Rosemead, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office faulted the council, but did not demand corrective action because the Wal-Mart was already built and open.

Will Azusa’s council face the same fate? And, if so, what are the potential implications?

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Rosemead city manager may get a bump in pay tonight

Considering we have been following city salaries closely in the last month, here is an update on one.

Rosemead City Manager Jeffrey Allred may be getting a raise soon. Allred makes $175,000 now, but council members may decide to give Allred a 2.5 percent raise. Council members will discuss the pay increase tonight at their council meeting.

Apparently Allred’s evaluation was so double rainbow all the way that he deserved a 5 percent merit increase, but he decided that was too much during the recession and asked to have it dropped to 2.5 percent.

Public employee salaries have been heavily scrutinized in the wake of the Bell scandal where the city manager was making nearly $800,000 a year.

Allred’s is not near that amount, but there are bound to be some people not pleased with their tax dollars being spent on giving extra money to public employees already making six figure salaries.

The council will also look to cast into stone a city ordinance that would hope to put a cork on teenage drinking. The council will consider the ordinance and pay raise at its 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall, 8838 E. Valley Blvd.

Check out the brief previewing tonight’s meeting here.

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Elderly woman, daughter of former Rosemead mayor, and her husband found stabbed in their home

We are investigating the stabbing death of a Rosemead couple found in their home Monday night.

It appears that one of the victims, Susan Bezner, was also the daughter of former Rosemead Mayor Stuart Maude and the couple was well-known in the community. Look for more in tomorrow’s newspaper and online.

Here is today’s story:

ROSEMEAD – Coroner’s officials Tuesday identified a couple found stabbed to death inside their Rosemead home Monday night as Jack and Susan Bezner, longtime residents with deep ties to the city.

Jack Bezner, 71, was a longtime employee of the Savannah Cemetery in Rosemead. His wife, Susan Bezner, 64, was the daughter of former Rosemead Mayor Stuart Maude.

The couple were found at about 8 p.m. in the home in the 4200 block of Arica Avenue. Detectives were at the home until past 3 a.m. Tuesday, but Lt. Michael Rosson of the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau said no new information was available. Both deaths were being investigated as homicides, he and coroner’s officials said.

Rosemead councilwoman turns Tribune photo op into press conference


With staff cutbacks at newspapers large and small, sometimes press conferences these days are lucky to get one reporter or photographer in attendance.

So for Rosemead Councilwoman Sandra Armenta, apparently one photographer has come to equate a press conference.

Yesterday Pasadena Star-News reporter Dan Abendschein was working on a story about a proposal to bring the high speed rail through some San Gabriel Valley communities, including Rosemead.

Councilwoman Armenta opposes the plan – saying it would destroy neighborhoods – so Abendschein asked if the paper could get a photo of her in front of her house for the story. They scheduled it for 4 p.m.

Hours later, Rosemead’s spokeswoman sent out a press release announcing a press conference at 4 p.m. at her home:


WHAT: Council Member Sandra Armenta, residents who could possibly lose their
homes, and businesses who may be adversely affected by the California High
Speed Rails Authoritys (CHSRA) project are gathering today to voice their
opposition to a route that the CHRSA is exploring as an alternative. The
CHRSAs current draft proposed alignment would cause many residents,
including Council Member Sandra Armenta, to lose their homes.

Based on limited information provided by the CHSRA, it is estimated that
homes and businesses located within a 250-foot zone to the north or south of
the I-10 freeway along Ramona Boulevard, would be affected either through
displacement or through the negative impact on property values.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 4, 4 p.m.

WHERE: Armenta Residence

This is why they’re hot


Apparently, Huy Fong Foods Inc. – which produces and distributes the ever popular Sriracha sauce – is getting a little too hot for Rosemead.

The company is in negotiations with Irwindale to move its entire operation to a 22.9-acre site on Azusa Canyon Road. Talks have been ongoing for nearly nine months, and Irwindale City Manager Robert Griego said he hopes to put a cap on it by December.

The owner of Huy Fong declined to comment on the plans Wednesday. But officials in Rosemead and Irwindale said the company is simply getting too big for its own facilities.

“It looks like we’re close to finalizing the actual transaction,” Griego said. “It’s really exciting because their plans are to actually double in size over a period of time.”

Huy Fong is currenlty housed at a 68,000-square-foot plant in Rosemead. But the company has grown since first opening shop in 1986.

“When you have places like Irwindale, which may be to offer a cheaper place to do business … I don’t blame a business for wanting to jump on that,” said Councilman Steven Ly.

Upon learning of the negotiations, Rosemead officials at City Hall Wednesday morning were trying to schedule a meeting with the company’s owner — an 11th-hour bid to persuade Huy Fong to stay put.

“We just want to speak with them to find out if there’s anything we can do to entice them,” Rosemead City Manager Jeff Allred said. “But we also understand they are very much a booming business and they have expansion needs.”

If they move to the Irwindale, Huy Fong plans to increase its operating facilities by nearly 10 times — constructing a 626,186-square-foot building with offices, a warehouse and a manufacturing plant, said Ray Hamada, Irwindale’s director of planning and community development.

It would probably take a year and half to two years to complete the move, Griego said.

Officials have not named a price on the land, at 4702 Azusa Canyon Road, just yet, but the property is appraised at about $20 million, Hamada said.

Former Rosemead mayor runs for school board


It seems former Rosemead Mayor John Tran just can’t stay out of the political ring.

Five months after losing his seat on the Rosemead City Council by just one vote, Tran is now trying for the El Monte Union High School District board, which serves parts of Rosemead.

Tran will be facing six candidates in the Nov. 3 race: incumbents Tonson Man, Carlos Salcedo and Theresa Velasco, and newcomers Ben Escobedo, Jane Myring and Steve Ortiz.

He also would have been facing former El Monte Police Chief Ken Weldon, who pulled papers to run on July 15. But Weldon must have had a change of heart — he never filed his nomination forms.

Tran served on the Rosemead City Council for four years.

He lost a bid for reelection in March, but didn’t give up that easy. He filed a lawsuit and challenged dozens of disqualified ballots, which resulted in four additional votes going to Tran.

But it still wasn’t enough to beat Councilwoman Sandra Armenta, who won by one vote.

Thanks, but no thanks, remaining Rosemead commissioners

Rebecca Kimitch writes that the City Council will replace the entire planning commission, the board that votes on planning related issues in the city:

ROSEMEAD – The City Council voted Tuesday to replace all five members of the Planning Commission because of their support last year of controversial planning changes in the city.

The change marks the latest move by the city council, elected in March, to remove all traces of the former council majority.

Members voted to place Nancy Eng, William Alarcon, Diana Herrera, Victor Ruiz and Joan Hunter on the commission.

The terms of the current five commissioners will be up June 1. Commissioners Daniel Lopez, Todd Kunioka, and Allan Vuu had had applied to be renamed to the commission but were denied because of their support last September of a controversial new general plan – a blueprint for development – in the city, Mayor Maggie Clark said.

Council members also objected to the current commission’s vote last November to allow a chicken slaughterhouse to continue operating in the city, Clark said. The council later reversed that decision.

Though new, the new commission is experienced, Clark said.

Alarcon has served on the city council and the planning commission; Herrera has served on the planning commission; Hunter has served on the traffic commission and as president of the Rosemead Chamber of Commerce; Ruiz has served on the traffic commission and has worked on county public works projects; and Eng has served as a neighborhood watch captain and on the Garvey School Board bond oversite committee.

The planning commission will be tasked this year with revising the new general plan. Though the plan was approved last year, the new council majority has vowed to change it because of concerns that it will increase the city’s population.

New city manager in Rosemead

Jeff Allred will serve as Rosemead’s newest City Manager, Rebecca Kimitch reports.

ROSEMEAD – The Rosemead City Council selected its fourth city manager in as many years Tuesday, naming Jeff Allred to the post.

Allred, Norco’s city manager, replaces Jeffrey Stewart, an interim who was brought aboard April 7 with hopes from the council that he would stay permanently. Those hopes were dashed when Stewart later accepted the city manager post in the Orange County city of Los Alamitos.

“I’ll be glad to work with Jeff Allred… but I’m not going to lie, we were lucky to have (Stewart) for six weeks,” said councilman Steven Ly.

Allred has served as the city manager of Norco – known as Horsetown USA for its red carpet welcome to horses – for more than five years. Previous to that, he served as assistant city manager in La Verne for 13 years, and has also worked in the cities of El Monte, West Covina and Downey. Read more.