La Puente Mayor’s next appearance will be …

At a special La Puente council meeting earlier this month, Mayor John Solis requested moving the regular Jan. 10 council meeting to Jan. 11.

“The reason I did that was because I don’t think we’re going to have a quorum that day,” Solis said.

He explained that Councilwoman Nadia Mendoza recently had a few deaths in the family, so she likely wouldn’t be able to attend.

Solis also mentioned that he and Councilman Vince House would be out of town at a conference in Sacramento for “one-on-one” time with legislatures and to voice their concerns about the end of redevelopment.

Councilman Dan Holloway wasn’t so convinced – was there something specifically on the agenda that Solis didn’t want approved by a majority vote?

“I want to make sure that we’re being told (Mendoza) won’t be here,” he said. “I will support this if I have assurance that there’s not going to be a quorum. I don’t want to move a meeting just because two council members will be out of town and three of them will be here.”

No fuss, no muss. It was easily approved by the three present members.

And then on Monday, Jan. 9., County Sheriff’s officials released a sketch of a man suspected of raping a La Puente girl. The TV crews were all over it – and so was John Solis.

Residents captured glimpses of Solis being interviewed by several local television stations that night. (Too bad I can’t find any online videos to post. Except this one.)

Anyway, I go about my business and attend a very late night public hearing in West Covina the next day – the day Solis was supposed to be at a conference, right?

Nope. He was at the same West Covina meeting I was at. His friend, Mayor Mike Touhey, is on the council.

“I thought you were going to a conference?,” I asked Solis.

Looking a little flustered, he said he was sick and dragged himself out of bed to do interviews that morning. I guess he was fully recovered by the time the West Covina meeting came to an end at about midnight.

Solis assured me House went to the conference.

Still, at the Jan. 3 meeting, both Solis and House got defensive about the number of conferences they attend and the expenses they incur.

Council members have come under heavy scrutiny for the trips they take by members of the Coalition of Concerned Residents, a watchdog citizens group that recently formed.

“I keep hearing and hearing over and over again that we’re blowing the city’s money going to these conventions,” House said. “We don’t go up there to party and have a good time. I don’t get paid one penny more for those days I’m out of town. I only get my expenses and that I have a legal right to have.”

“Don’t just assume we’re out having a party every time we’re out of town,” he added. “I’m doing my duty. Please don’t berate me for doing it.”

Solis agreed.

“We do go and we’re going to continue to go to it because it benefits the city,” Solis said.

Maybe that stance changes when TV cameras are around.

West Covina may begin to broadcast meetings again

WEST COVINA — Residents may soon be able to stay home and watch city meetings live — something they haven’t been able to do since the televised programming was axed in 2008.

After going three years without broadcasting its meetings to West Covina households, the City Council this week instructed staff to research the cost of potentially implementing video webcasts or live television broadcasts of City Council and Planning Commission meetings.

“We want that transparency and we want to open that window and I’m happy,” said Councilman Fredrick Sykes, a long-time proponent of live broadcasts. “It’s going to be great for the seniors who do not like to drive at night and those who are disabled. There’s thousands of people we represent and it’s for the benefit of the people.”

The program began more than 20 years ago. It cost the city about $180,000 annually when it was broadcast through Charter Communications cable television, officials said.

West Covina began providing audio of City Council meetings in October 2010. And while those meetings are streamed lived, it takes a few days for them to be archived and available on the city website through the Sire Agenda system, which also provides city documents.

Still, West Covina is one of the few cities of its size that does not provide any type of broadcast of meetings to residents, Sykes said.

“It’s like the radio the way they have it right now, and it’s behind the times,” he said. “We represent over 150,000 people and not everyone has Internet due to poverty or what have you. But if we do both the Internet and the cable, now we cover a wider (spectrum) and can cover almost everybody in the city.”

West Covina councilman Sykes experiences new role

Newly elected West Covina councilman Fredrick Sykes and his family are still getting used to him sitting on the dais – so much so that Sykes wife, Dana, takes photos of him at the meetings.

Before the official start of Tuesday’s council meeting, the proud wife pulled out her phone and took a photo of Sykes, who was smiling and sitting in his seat.

“I think she was taking a photo to send a (text message) to our daughter,” the laughing Sykes said.

Sykes, 60, went into the November election considering himself the underdog since he had failed to capture a seat in two prior elections. But he ended up beating out former Councilwoman Karin Armbrust with more than 230 votes.

After years of attending council meetings, being a community activist and speaking his mind, Sykes, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was officially welcomed to the dais on Dec. 6.

Still learning the ropes in his new role as city councilman, Sykes has one thing to say about being elected: “Be careful what you wish for.”

West Covina set to hire retiring city manager under 960 plan

The West Covina City Council at this week’s meeting unanimously voted to hire City Manager Andrew Pasmant – set to retire at the end of the month – under the 960 plan.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System allows retired employees to accept a temporary appointment and work less than 960 hours per fiscal year. It would save the city about $18,000 a month.

Read Staff Writer Martiza Velazquez’s story posted earlier this week:

WEST COVINA – After a decade on the job, City Manager Andrew Pasmant has announced that he will retire this month.

Pasmant’s official date of retirement is Dec. 30, however he may stick around longer to help the city transition to a new city manager, a process city council members said could take awhile.

“As I told the council in a letter, there are a lot of challenges that the city will still face and if they need my help, I will stay a little longer to make the transition as easy as possible,” Pasmant said. “The city has been good to me, so I want to reciprocate.”

Councilmembers are slated to discuss tonight how to begin their search for a new city manager and what to do in the interim.

One of their options is to hire Pasmant temporarily under the “960 plan.”

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System allows retired employees to accept a temporary appointment as a “retired annuitant” as long as the employee in the position works less than 960 hours per fiscal year.

The move could save about $18,000 a month, according to city documents, because the city would not have to pay benefits including retirement payments, health care benefits and accrual of vacation, sick leave and floating holidays.

Pasmant has also offered to stay in his position under the terms of his current contract until an agreed-upon date in 2012.

“I know it’s going to be amicable, whatever the situation is,” Pasmant said. “I know we have a good relationship and I’ll leave it to council what they think is in the best interest of the community.”

Councilman Steve Herfert said the process to find a new city manager won’t be easy or quick.

“What we’re faced with is we won’t probably find anyone as experienced as him. They will probably be newer and we’re going to take our time. We’re not going to do this real quick,” Herfert said.

Herfert said Pasmant has been a major asset to the city. The city has recently been recognized for being energy efficient and business-friendly.

“(City managers) set the tone for how the employees react and how professional the city is and I think we’re a very respected city and I think that has to do with his leadership,” Herfert said.

After retiring, the 56-year-old Pasmant, of Downey, hopes to do more philanthropic work and plans to stay active in local organizations.

“I think I have been very blessed to have worked here,” Pasmant said. “I’m very proud of the accomplishments we’ve had here in the city.”

West Covina doesn’t wait long to adjust council photo

Most city websites have employee and city council pictures that last for years, sometimes more, and are rarely updated. But in West Covina, it didn’t take long before the council members got together to take a group picture without now Assemblyman Roger Hernandez in it.

The new picture, showing four of the council members but not newly appointed member Karin Armbrust, includes Steve Herfert, Shelley Sanderson, Mike Touhey and Sherri Lane.


Appointments all around in Covina, West Covina

If you are a politician in Covina and West Covina, times appear to be good (in the sense of getting elected).

In West Covina, Karin Armbrust went from second loser to being appointed on the council to replace newly minted Assemblyman Roger Hernandez.

Armbrust will serve the remainder of his term, which ends in November. She was selected from a pool of 19 applicants.

Then in Covina, with no challengers for incumbents Peggy Delach and Walt Allen, the election was canceled.

Instead the council appointed both incumbents, saving the city a cool chunk of change.

Weekend in review plus some bonus football smack talk

Before we get into week-in-review, I want to take this time to put Chargers’ fans on blast.

I am not a Raiders fan by any means, nor am I am Charger’s hater. In fact, nine times out of ten, I root for the Bolts over those norther demons. But this weekend all I heard from Chargers’ fans was disrespect and comments about how Sunday’s game was nothing more than a practice game. I can’t say how happy it makes me when someone talks trash, takes a team lightly, and makes ludacris claims only to have them get beat. Best thing that happens in sports. You know that movie ‘Little Giants‘? Underdogs win sometimes, that is why they even have the word underdog. Let that be a lesson to those San Diegans who thought they had a stats padding day set up for them.

Here is the weekend news you missed, but should know about.

In Azusa, the potential affects of a Azusa Rock Quarry mining referendum are still being debated.
Two attorney’s involved in a Rosemead Wal-Mart referendum (one for and one against) take a look at the implications in Azusa.

After she filed a lawsuit against Councilman Roger Hernandez, people working for in West Covina claim public information officer Sue Williams is rarely at work.

In Diamond Bar, officials let go of a building officials who previously worked as a planning director in Bell.

Republican nominee for 57th district asks for a do-over concerning his endorsement of Roger Hernandez

Got this via reporter Rebecca Kimitch:

Something got to Brian Gutierrez, Republican candidate for the 57th Assembly district, over the summer.

Just two months after the 20-year-old candidate made the unusual move of endorsing his Democratic rival, West Covina Councilman Roger Hernandez, Gutierrez has done a complete 180.

This week he not only “vehemently” rescinded his endorsement, he went on to refer to Hernandez as “a typical double-talking politician known for his lying.”

Gutierrez said Hernandez hasn’t lived up to his promises to take the young GOP candidate on the campaign trail with him and to listen to the ideas of Republicans.

“I had been badly misled and duped by him,” Gutierrez said.

In July, Gutierrez sang a different song. Back then, he praised Hernandez as someone who would listen to all constituents, regardless of party, and said the Democrat has more experience than him.

Gutierrez also called Hernandez a role model and mentor, remembering how his rival had him over for Thanksgiving when his mom died.

Back in July he said: “My party may not be happy with me for the decision I made, but I believe that no matter who one person may be in terms of their party, you should always support someone you believe in and who can do the job.”

While Gutierrez acknowledged this week that he “simply didn’t do his research” before endorsing his rival, he said he wasn’t being naive in believing a Democrat would listen to Republican ideas.

Either way, the flip-flop won’t likely have much of an outcome on the race. Considering how Democratic the 57th leans, Hernandez is largely considered a shoo-in for the seat.

Here is Gutierrez’s news release:

Brian A. Gutierrez
Republican Nominee

Former Board of Director for the Rowland Unified School District Foundation, and Republican nominee for the 57th Assembly District, Brian A. Gutirrez pulled his endorsement of Roger Hernndez for California Assembly District 57th today, saying he no longer believes him to be the best representative for the residents of the 57th Assembly District.

The 20 year old Mount. San Antonio College student admits he simply didn’t do his research before lending his name to Hernndez’s campaign, and made the endorsement without properly seeking guidance from his consultant. In fact, he believes he was misled by Hernndez’s assertions that they could ‘work together’ for the benefit of the people of the 57th Assembly District.

Gutirrez discovered Hernandez’s tax & spend habits and does not, as a fiscally conservative Latino, support further taxes on small businesses and middle class families. Hernndez’s involvement in the City of West Covina’s Measure D campaign also alerted Gutirrez to the fact that Hernndez has little care for honest government. The FPPC recently fined the committee’s treasurer $6,000 for failing to properly filing campaign financial disclosure statements.

Gutirrez also admits that only recently he became more informed about Hernndez’s unethical behavior and knack for creating hostile work environments in the City.

Gutirrez stated in the past that Hernndez was his mentor and role model, but as maturity tends to do, he realized Roger is a typical double-talking politician known for his lying. In fact, Roger doesn’t even have the support of his own council, not a single endorsement from any of them due to his lack of character. Gutirrez was mistaken about Hernndez’s leadership ability and vehemently rescinds his endorsement.

Finally, Gutirrez has just this to say, “Roger left me no alternative than to pull my endorsement, and he knows why. I had been badly misled and duped by him, but luckily I found out before November and will do my utmost to try and right this wrong. I also oppose his support for a $200 fee on residents that are forced to call 911. It’s a slap in the face of hard-working taxpayers who have already paid their taxes for emergency services while Hernndez, along with other council members have shifted those taxes from public safety to their own pay checks.

Please join Brian A. Gutirrez as he works hard the next five weeks to get out the vote in the 57th AD. Gutirrez hopes you join him in making change happen. Feel free to visit Gutirrez official website at

I Brian A. Gutirrez approved this letter:


Brian A. Gutierrez
Candidate/Nominee for California’s 57th
Assembly District.

In case you missed it, here is a roundup of weekend news

Are you ready for a crazy week in review?

Doesn’t every week in review say that… every week? It seems that when ever I see a week in review on a website it is always crazy. Is every week really that wild or do some writers need to get a thesaurus?

For us, it appears the weekend included some tragic news with a 14-month-old girl killed when her aunt struck the child with her car in a driveway.

The weekend also included two fatal collisions, one in Hacienda Heights and another in Glendora.

Also this weekend, Glendora police are searching for two men believed to be responsible for a string of day-time home burglaries. They have a good description of the vehicle and are seeking the public’s help.

West Covina may lose one ambulance in a cost-cutting move. The city would replace that lost ambulance with a contracted service. The city is facing a $3.5 million deficit.

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Two-week leak finally gets plugged in West Covina

Reading the paper today (online), I missed this story about how a West Covina water leak lasted two weeks before crews were able to fix it and I thought maybe you missed it too.

In a time when cities, water districts and political officials are clamoring about water levels and the need to conserve, you would think organizations would move pretty quick to plug a leak.

For those of you who pay your water bills (many of which have been raised in the last year or two), and have cut back on water consumption, what did you think when you heard about this two-week leak?

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