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.

El Monte considers building brand new civic center

EL MONTE – The city’s El Monte Gateway project is centered on the idea of a transit-friendly village of homes and businesses adjacent to the 10 freeway. And now part of that development might be a brand new city civic center.

The City Council and staff are throwing the idea around, with some saying that it would be a nice amenity for residents, who would be able to shop and access city services all in one area.

The civic center could include other public agencies, such as the fire department, and private agencies like the University of La Verne. Officials are still in talks to see the feasibility of other entities sharing the space.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to continue down this road of exploring this possibility,” Mayor Andre Quintero said. “Obviously the numbers have to make sense. But that’s prime real estate next to the freeway.”

Is Joe Rocha untouchable?

There is nothing new to report regarding applications for the Azusa City Council. The list of potential candidates remains the same with Jorge Rosales, Peggy Martinez, Paul Naccachian, Madelyn Payne and incumbents Urial Macias and Angel Carrillo.

The news, for now, may be the lack of a competitor for Mayor Joe Rocha. Rocha ran unopposed two years ago and appears to be close to doing the same this election cycle.

This only lends credence to no one believes they can beat Rocha in an election.

Often known as a “people’s” councilman, Rocha is known for his generous nature. He knows everyone, reaches out to those in need, and will often visit the homes of those he thinks could use a friend.

Not only that, but he often has a populist touch to his voting habits. Take the Vulcan mining issue for example. Rocha was the sole no vote on the issue that faced intense scrutiny and was lambasted by neighboring Duarte officials and residents, as well as many Azusa residents.

Whether that was the popular vote among Azusa residents remains to be seen. What we do know is that Rocha may have become such an entrenched character of the council, that no one appears ready to take him on in an election.

Especially, in this election where there seems to be an opportunity – somewhat – for a challenger. A major issue is before the city (Vulcan mining) which a candidate has the opportunity to distinguish themselves on. In addition, a jumbled field follows any of those vying for an open council position. There are six council candidates campaigning for two spots, which includes a battle against the incumbents holding the positions now. This thought had to cross someone’s mind: Would I rather have a one vs. one, winner take all fight or a knock down, bare knuckle, wrestle mania match with five other candidates (maybe more) where other challengers could siphon votes from me and give the incumbents an edge?

Yet, no one appears to want to take that risk against Rocha.

It begs the question: Is he untouchable?

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Quick update on Glendora council candidates

No new people have pulled papers for the Glendora council race as of my last update. So the field remains – potentially – with John Fields, Jason Nagy, Ed Brubaker, Erica Landmann-Johnsey, Joe Santoro and incumbents Doug Tessitor and Ken Herman.

But as of yesterday, only Santoro, Tessitor and Fields had returned their paperwork, and only Tessitor and Santoro were approved (Fields is awaiting approval). So, only Santoro and Tessitor are official candidates at this point.

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Claims of liar may have been exaggerated at Glendora council meeting

Wendell Phillips, the attorney representing the Glendora municipal employees association, took a beating at the council meeting Tuesday night.

In the process of making a unanimous vote to impose contract concessions on the association, many council members questioned Phillips handling of the truth.

Watch for yourself toward the end of the council meeting video.

But Phillips may not have been fibbing about the motivation behind concessions made by the police officers association and police managers association last year.

Phillips has said that the POA and the PMA took the bullet for the employees association last year by making concessions with the understanding that the employees association would not have to.

At time time, Councilman Doug Tessitor called those claims “B.S.”

Well… I spoke with Police Officers Association President Michael Henderson and PMA President Sgt. Scott Strong and both confirmed Phillips’ claims to be true.

Henderson said that part of the motivation for agreeing to defer their salary increases as well as making other concessions was to avoid the employees association being hit. Henderson said they made their motivation clear to the city during negotiations.

After agreeing to those concessions, Henderson said they later learned the city wanted a 3 percent concession across the board.

Strong echoed those remarks, saying they made clear that they were making the concessions with the understanding the GMEA would not be asked to make the same concessions. Those negotiations were with City Manager Chris Jeffers, Finance Director Josh Betta and then deputy city manager Culver Heaton, Strong said.

Considering the council’s remarks from last night, Strong said there must have been some “misunderstanding.”

Councilman Doug Tessitor called me today and apologized for his remarks. He said he was wrong on that particular issue and planned to clarify that at the next council meeting.

“That was an error on my part,” Tessitor said. “I intend to make a public announcement at the next council meeting that I was in error and apologize for making that statement.”

Jeffers, in remarks to this newspaper, and in city staff reports regarding the negotiations, an argument made in favor of approving the city’s recommended concessions was that the employees association had not made concessions in the previous year.


The one thing that seems to be clear is, at least for this one, Phillips may have been telling the truth.

More on this story online tomorrow and in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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