Vulcan editorial linked on Azusa website, does it matter to you?

The city of Azusa’s website posted a link to the Tribune’s editorial on the Vulcan Materials Co’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal decision.

This, to my recollection, is the first time the city has ever linked to a story written by this newspaper regarding the subject (the city of Duarte, on the other hand, has links to nearly every story written on the subject).

Being that the council passed the proposal and that the editorial is mostly in favor of the plan, it doesn’t seem coincidental that the city posted the link on its homepage.

This got me thinking. How important are newspaper editorial’s in formalizing your opinions on an issue?

All newspapers write them, politicians often use them in campaigns, and major newspapers like the New York Times can cause considerable controversy or conversation with its editorials.

Do editorials affect your opinions? Do you read newspaper editorials or take them seriously?

Note: Reporters, such as myself, don’t write newspaper editorials and have no input on what they favor/disfavor, and we wouldn’t want to have any. The opinions expressed in editorials are those of the paper’s editorial board.

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Azusa Mayor Joe Rocha announces (early) he will seek reelection


About two weeks ago at an event with some of his supporters and friends, Mayor Joe Rocha announced he will seek reelection in March.

Rocha said he normally announces his campaign before the political season hits full throttle because he runs a “grass roots campaign.” He needs early word of mouth in order to be competitive because he won’t ask for political contributions, he said.

“It makes me uncomfortable in these economic times to ask people for money for signs,” Rocha said to me in a phone conversation today.

He said he will run on his record and use friends around town to ask others to support his campaign.

He hasn’t heard of anyone running against him (neither have I) and it wouldn’t be surprising if he was once again unopposed. Rocha is regarded by many in the community as being someone who votes with his heart as much as his mind. He is actively involved in the community and a vocal advocate for the needy and veterans.

He is also accessible. I have heard numerous stories from people calling on Rocha or him visiting people at their homes (without him trying to draw attention to it) to help with a problem or offer some counseling.

Those efforts have made him many friends in the community that would make it difficult for a challenger to run against him.

In addition, he was the only council person to vote against the Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal. How that would play out in an election is yet to be seen.

Besides Vulcan, major topics in the next election would be getting a grocery store, downtown development and bringing a quality hotel to Azusa, Rocha said.

Rocha was first elected Mayor in 2007 when he defeated incumbent Diane Chagnon, leaving behind his council seat.

He then ran unopposed in 2009 for his first reelection campaign.

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La Verne City Manager leaving his post (no, not for Miami)

We reported yesterday that long time La Verne City Manager Martin Lomeli was packing away the briefcase and moving on. The 23 year City Manager is retiring next month and will be replaced by Assistant City Manager Bob Russi.

In a day in age when City Managers last at one city about as long as star athletes do with one team, (Lebron reference #1) it is absolutely unheard of to have a City Manager retire after spending 23 years at his post, not to mention 30 years with the city as an employee as Lomeli has done.

He left the post gracefully, and humbly without making a big tada about it (that’s #2) using a written statement to the city and a replacement groomed and ready to go.

Just as a comparison. Chris Jeffers in Glendora started in 2007, before that he was with Monterey Park.

Fran Delach, Azusa’s City Manager, has been with them for five years. Before that he was the City Manager in Covina for six years.

Blaine Michaelis in San Dimas has had a long tenure with the city at 10 years.

Covina’s City Manager Daryl Parish started there in 2009, before that he was City Manager of Colton for 8 years.

El Monte fired their City Manager not long ago and is now being helmed by Rene Bobadilla. Rosemead is breaking in a new City Manager. La Puente and Monterey Park … well, you get the idea.

Suffice it to say, it speaks to Lomeli’s work with La Verne that he lasted as long as he did. Also, it says something about loyalty for a guy who, various city officials say, was renowned across the state as one of the best at his business. We all know that it is hard for some people when they are considered to be one of the best to not be consumed by ego (trifecta!).

Also, you got to respect the fact he didn’t make the decision during a one hour TV special. (All right, I’m done.)

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The Vulcan hangover (this is far from over)

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Like many others, I have lost some sleep because of the Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal controversy in Azusa.

My loss of sleep is more of the I had to work until the wee hours of the morning due to a late council meeting variety rather than the “soul searching” Mayor Joe Rocha was speaking of last night, but, nonetheless, it has been a long ride for everyone involved for a myriad of reasons.

Anyway, despite the final decision being handed down last night giving approval to Vulcan’s plan to shift its operations to the west, everyone should already know – this fight is far from over.

Duarte has contended for a long time that they would fight this in court. That decision will come soon.

Then there is the potential referendum from Save Our Canyon.

So, while everyone is feeling the hangover from last night’s/this morning’s decision, recover soon because there is more where that came from.

A preview of tomorrow’s story.

AZUSA – In a decision that many council members said would define their careers representing the city, a new Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal passed 4-1 Wednesday morning.

After nearly six hours of discussion ended just after midnight Wednesday, the Azusa council reversed an earlier decision and decided to allow mining to go west into Van Tassel Ridge in exchange for an overall better looking hillside, officials said.

“This council is going to be chiseling its name in stone for a project that we are going to have to live with,” councilman Keith Hanks said at the meeting. “We are going to own this one way or the other.”

The proposal also takes mining further away from Azusa’s Mountain Cove community, spares Fish Ridge, adds millions of dollars in revenue to the city, and forces Vulcan to reshape previous mining benches into smaller benches the city hopes will improve an eyesore.

Mayor Joe Rocha, the lone dissenting vote, said he was “heartbroken” by the decision to cut down Van Tassel Ridge.

“Once that ridge is gone, it is gone forever,” he said. “We will have to preserve it in pictures.”

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Duarte asks, like a good neighbor…will Azusa be there?

In a detailed letter thrashing Azusa’s supposed new and improved Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan (facing the City Council tonight for round two) Duarte officials offered a mining plan of their own called the Good Neighbor Plan.

Being that the major disadvantages to the plan is the reduction in mining, and as thus in profit for a major corporation, betting odds say Vulcan has as good a chance of accepting Duarte’s plans as there is Lebron goes to the Clippers.

The council will ponder staff’s newly negotiated terms tonight at 7:30 p.m., as well as Duarte’s questions regarding the freshly inked amendments.

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Vulcan plan changes and staff report released

The Azusa city staff report for Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan was released late Thursday and includes a series of changes.

The plan is up for reconsideration and a public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Tuesday night.

A story will follow this weekend, but check out the staff report for yourself.

Expect a long meeting Tuesday following the long weekend. Have a safe and happy Independence Day. See some of you, I’m sure, at the council meeting Tuesday.

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This is your side of the council chamber and this is our side…


In the future, if you want to walk to the Azusa City Council dais and speak to your favorite councilman (for handshakes, serving petitions, autographs or general public scolding) you may have to practice your limbo skills … or just ask for assistance.

One thing that Mayor Rocha questioned at Monday’s council meeting – and garnered a couple laughs from the audience – was a provision in the 2010/2011 budget that called for some updates to the City Council chambers.

The $31,000 allocation included, among other things, a kind of barrier or rope line between the audience and the council.

The line would probably consist of the same thing you see at banks or movie theaters used to organize lines, but in this case would be used to keep people away from the dais, unless allowed, City Manager Fran Delach said.

It was recommended by Azusa Police Chief Robert Garcia.

“It would be similar to the board of supervisors hearing room,” Delach said. “We committed to the Mayor that any tentative plans would be brought back to council.”

While Delach said other venues use such things, giving the example of the Los Angeles County Supervisors hearing room, other council chambers like Glendora, Duarte, La Verne, El Monte, Rosemead, and South El Monte don’t have barriers. Some cities, like Walnut, do have something that separates the audience and council members.

Delach was clear in saying it wasn’t something meant to decrease transparency or public access and whatever was put in would be removable.

“We are not going to put glass up or anything, no wall,” he said. “It is a number of measures to help improve security and technology of the council chambers.”

Besides the rope line, the $31,000 includes updating computer monitors for council members at the Dais, among other improvements, Delach said.

What do you think? Is this a wise use of city funds in the name of safety and modernization?

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Azusa councilman (incorrectly?) clumps school board with city


It was a quick comment, maybe one said in the moment, but there were some whispers and shaking heads on Monday night after one of Uriel Macias comments on the budget.

The city was about to vote on their budget and Macias was commending city staff in explaining how Azusa was in good shape.

Macias said it was good to see Azusa having a balanced budget when you see other cities and school boards cutting, and “we don’t have that in Azusa.”

Well……while the city isn’t laying anybody off, the Azusa Unified School Board sure has. In May, 22 teachers lost their jobs.

In fact, in this instance, it was those other cities that were able to hold onto teachers: Baldwin Park Unified, Hacienda La Puente Unified, El Monte Union, Covina-Valley Unified, El Monte City, Glendora Unified and Charter Oak Unified school districts all avoided layoffs.

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Following Lakers parade the after party is at Azusa City Hall

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If you plan on attending the Azusa City Council meeting Monday night post Lakers victory parade, bring a snack, some comfy shoes and drink plenty of water as it is shaping up to be a long night.

On the agenda for Monday: the first step in reconsideration of Vulcan Materials Azusa Rock Quarry mining proposal, adoption of the 2010/2011 city budget, and a trash rate adjustment.

If you live in Azusa, or Duarte for that matter, and have been too wrapped up in the NBA playoffs for the last few months, (full disclosure: I am a Lakers fan so today has been a very good day. On the other hand, Duarte City Manager Darrell George is a Celtics fan. Send your condolences to Duarte City Hall, 1600 Huntington Drive, Duarte) the mining proposal is the most controversial issue for Azusa in years and is a huge issue for many residents in Duarte who will also be affected.

It was turned down a month ago by the Azusa City Council 3-2, but they recently voted unanimously to reconsider the issue.

The meeting is sure to be filled with Duarte councilmembers, city staff and lawyers, Vulcan’s PR team and employees as well as many Azusa and Duarte citizens who will speak during the meeting’s public comment period.

Azusa staff is expected to give a recommendation on how the city should proceed with the reconsideration process, including setting hearing dates, what issues should be further evaluated, and other aspects of the proposal the council would like to see renegotiated.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Azusa City Hall Auditorium, 213 E. Foothill Blvd.

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