Town Hall meeting in West Covina on Tuesday?

I’ve received a couple of calls from residents informing me of a community meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the West Covina ballot measure regarding districts.

West Covina Assitant City Clerk Sue Rush says this is not a town hall meeting sponsored by the city, and Fred Sykes, who has sponsored the measure, said he and his supporters are not hosting the meeting, either.

So who is it?

The meeting, according to the tips I got, will be at either the park or community center at Larke Ellen and Cameron in West Covina. Apparently, there are some fliers that were sent out. If anyone has the flier, send it to me at jennifer.mclain@sgvn.com

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department vs. Your City Police Department

As Irwindale gears up for a meeting on Wednesday to follow-up a discussion about switching to the sheriff’s department, the recommendation has sparked quite a debate about the Irwindale police department.

One area I will be exploring is the the advantages of having the sheriff’s patrol your neighborhood versus a municipal police agency.

While there may be cost savings in contracting out with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, officials supporting municipal police agencies argue that cost savings may not be worth the loss of local control.

Open Forum: What are the advantages and disadvantages to a city having its own police department compared with contracting out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department?

West Covina cuts budget deficit in half

Reporter Jennifer McLain will be following this today and will probably be posting more later, but she says the West Covina City Council managed to cut its estimated budget deficit for the next fiscal year from $9.5 million to about $5 million Tuesday night.

They were also able to salvage some programs.

Lawsuit updates in West Covina

West Covina City Council is meeting tonight. It is also having a special session meeting, where it is scheduled to talk about the following:

- Anticipated litigation by Sue Williams, public information officer

- Existing litigation by Community Development Director Chris Chung

- Conference with labor negotiations that includes talks with all West Covina labor unions, including WC Police Officers Association, WC Police Management Association, WC Firefighters’ Association and Management Association

Hug it out, West Covina representatives

An editorial tackles Mayor Roger Hernandez’s accusations that the City Council is engaged in a gift of public funds. The editorial conlcudes:

There is every possibility that there might be something to Hernandez’s suspicions about too much money being paid for the property in question. Too much in the way of public funds are spent on redevelopment projects all the time, with little of the proper haggling and due diligence that goes on in the private sector when it’s a person’s or a business’s hard-earned money in play.

So these are legitimate questions, ones that local politicians need to ask more often, in the public interest. And it’s not news that the West Covina council is, sadly, a very dysfunctional family indeed, with no love lost between Hernandez and his colleagues.

But we deserve more from our politicians than the empty gesture that was Hernandez’s stunt.

Speaking of dysfunctional family, some of the behavior seen at City Council meetings is seen among the West Covina commissioners. On Tuesday, the City Council is going to adopt a code of ethics for its commissioners, who have apparently been acting rudely toward city staff and among one another. Among the items on the code of ethics are to be polite to one another, not say comments that could be considered heresay and not direct staff.

So what’s the answer for the West Covina City Council members and its commissioners? Here’s a light hearted recommendation: Watch this video and hug it out.

Up for wiffleball?

A two-hour ground breaking and grant signing ceremony for the city of Industry Water Recycling project at the Big League Dreams was concluded with a pitching and batting duel between the vice chairwoman’s of two state boards.

Frances Spivy-Weber, Vice Chair of the State Water Resources Board, stood a few feet away and tossed a wiffle ball to Board of Equalization Vice Chairwoman Judy Chu. Chu nailed it…the grounder went right back to the pitcher.

Umping the two-minute display of athletism was Tommy Davis, a former left-fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was all in good fun…

These folks were among the nearly 60 people who attended the ceremony honoring the work of Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipla Water District. Among the elected officials there was Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, West Covina Councilman Steve Herfert, Industry Mayor Dave Perez and at least a dozen elected water officials.

District Attorney receives West Covina complaint

Dave Demerjian, head of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Division, said on Tuesday that it received a complaint filed on Friday by Mayor Roger Hernandez, who is alledging that West Covina City Council is gifting public funds. Hernandez himself voted for this development deal, but later tried to change his mind. He failed because there was no quorum. (Background here.)

Demerjian said the office is reviewing it, which is how all complaints all handled. He wouldn’t say whether he thinks there is any meat to this complaint. Will follow up if the D.A. decides to prusue or dismiss it…

Hernandez alleges gift of public funds

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Mayor Roger Hernandez called a special meeting for tonight at 4 p.m. to reconsider the approval of an owner participation agreement with the West Covina Senior Villas for the development of an affordable senior housing project.

This is the property that was abandoned because the previous property owner who was building a bunch of condos said he can no longer afford it. The property now will be developed by Telacu, which is connected with Pacifici Development, owned by Hank Attina.

According to a story that ran on May 6:

On Tuesday, the West Covina Community Redevelopment Commission approved a deal that allows TELACU Industries, which specializes in building low-income housing, to purchase the property and to receive a subsidy from the city.

TELACU is buying the property for $3.5 million, and will be receiving an $8.6 million loan – which does not have to be paid if the developer continues providing low-income housing for the next 99 years – from the housing set-aside reserve fund from the city to cover the cost of the land and construction

Hernandez alleges that the council is gifting public funds to developer Attina because the city failed to appraise the land, a requirement by state law in any redevelopment deal. The city on May 5 approved the sale at $3.5 million, but Hernandez alleges that the property is only worth half that. He will attempt to stall the deal on Thursday, one day before the deal closes escrow.

We will see if any of this pans out later in the day.

UPDATED: Chung sues West Covina

Just got confirmation from the West Covina City Clerk’s office that the city was served with a lawsuit on behalf of Community Development Director Chris Chung, who alleges that Mayor Roger Hernandez subjected him to a hostile work enviornment. I’m going now to pick up the 66 page lawsuit.**

1:21 p.m. And I’m back. The lawsuit is NOT 66 pages…it’s only 17**. Here is the preliminary story. FYI: He doesn’t mention a dollar amount in the lawsuit. However, back when he made the claim with the city, he demanded $3 million.

West Covina employee sues city, Mayor

WEST COVINA — A city employee claims Mayor Roger Hernandez harassed him since 2003 and the city didn’t do anything to stop it, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of Community Development Director Chris Chung.

In the 17-page complaint, which was served on the city May 5 and filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court March 10, Chung claims he was discriminated based on race, that the city failed to prevent harassment and that he suffered emotional distress, including insomnia.

Beginning around March 2003, “Chung, who is of Asian ancestry, has been the target of racially motivated harassment, intimidation, bullying, false accusations of incompetence, (and) insider dealing … by Hernandez, who is Hispanic,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit details events that have occurred from 2003 to 2006 where Chung said he was subjected to a hostile work environment by Hernandez.

Hernandez did not return calls seeking comment.

Among them was an incidence that occurred on March 20, 2006, where Hernandez allegedly “stormed into” Chung’s office and accused him of running a dysfunctional department.

“His tirade was laced with profanity (repeatedly using the “f” word to refer to Chung and his staff,” the lawsuit states. “Hernandez made threatening gestures with his fists, kept waving and shaking his hand and fingers at Chung’s face compelling Chung to retreat behind his desk for protection.”

The lawsuit also states that Hernandez called Chung a liar, that Hernandez threatened to fire Chung and that Chung’s reputation and standing in the community has suffered because of Hernandez’s actions.

Hernandez did not return calls seeking comment.

City officials said they were anticipating the lawsuit. It follows a claim filed nearly two years ago in which Chung demands $3 million and job protection with the city of West Covina until retirement.

The lawsuit does not provide a figure in the amount of damages, including attorney’s fees, Chung is seeking.

Chung did not return calls seeking comment.