Would you take $484,000 in unused leave time given the opportunity?

Glendora Mayor Ken Herman made an interesting appeal to the audience at Tuesday’s council meeting in defending City Manager Chris Jeffers’ 2007 cash out of $484,000 of unused leave time when he left the same post in Monterey Park.

Herman was critical of the tone of the debate (and, I assume, the reporting of said actions) that Jeffers had done something wrong (he said something about extorting, which has never been said in this paper). In addition, Herman has often defended Jeffers actions by saying he benefited from policy not created by him.

At the same time, he often doesn’t talk about the fact that Jeffers negotiated and helped write his contract that allowed him to acrrue vacation time at a rate of one day off every week during his final year of employment, according to documents and officials.

In Jeffers defense, Herman said Tuesday that “there is nobody in this room that wouldn’t have done the same thing. He took what was rightfully his.”

It isn’t an uncommon argument to make when someone is either defending an action taken by themselves or someone else. Appeal to people’s emotions and have them reevaluate themselves. If I would have done it, one might think, I shouldn’t judge someone who did.

I don’t think the objection by most people is that Jeffers did something illegal (some might, and there have been allusions to Bell. I will leave that to others to justify those positions), but I think the major complaint comes in the form of distrust in those stewards of the community whom we have bestowed the responsibility of leading our cities and overseeing our bank accounts.

Did Jeffers earn (by not taking it) many days of vacation over his years of employment and merely followed city policy in cashing out those left over days? Yes. Should he be exonerated because he was, in a sense, just following the rules?

The problem is, I suspect, from the community is that when there is a public in place that clearly abuses public funds, they expect those at the top to correct it, not take advantage of it. Jeffers, as the city manager, and the council members above him, are – in the eyes of the public – there to make sure such policies don’t exist, and if they do, find them and correct them. Jeffers didn’t do that in Monterey Park (while, some argue, he did correct that policy in Glendora) and that is where the distrust is found.

With that said, I think Herman has a point. We live in a society where money is good, making a living is great, and being rich is admired. Everyone hopes to make more money.

If you had the opportunity to cash your vacation time at work and you accrued a month or more of that time a year, would you have done the same?

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

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.

Glendora council candidate connected to allegations of misconduct at Rio Hondo College

Reported in today’s paper that Rio Hondo college is investigating potential problems with its Police Academy beyond a testing breach being investigated by the state.

At the heart of the allegations – that include employees watching porn and improper range training – is the school’s former Dean of Public Safety and the academy’s supervisor Joe Santoro.

Santoro, the former Monrovia Police Chief, is also a Glendora resident that announced his bid for the City Council this week. With his background, both educational and administrative, Santoro was a potential favorite in that election. Now, the fate of that election bid may be directly tied to the outcome of these allegations.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

UPDATED: If Measure A (Azusa Rock Quarry referendum) is turned down, could Azusa just renegotiate a new agreement?

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The Tribune had an editorial meeting with members of the Canyon City Alliance and Azusa council members Robert Gonzales and Uriel Macias today.

After listening to their pitch, an interesting comment came about during discussions about Measure A and the Azusa Rock Quarry mining project.

It is and has been the position of the majority of the City Council, Azusa, and the CCA that a no vote on Measure A would only nullify Vulcan Materials Co.’s amended mining plan’s development agreement, but that its use permit would stand. Essentially, the mining would be allowed to continue but many of the benefits negotiated by the city with Vulcan Materials would be lost (a fact that remains questionable).

Now, of course that all comes with the caveat that legal challenges – and you can be sure there would be one – could argue the CUP and development agreement are tied together and upon success in a legal challenge, they both could go down.

But barring that hypothetical, the question was posed what would stop Azusa from negotiating a new development agreement connected to the project if this one is rejected?

The answer, in short, was nothing, according to Macias.

The long answer was no one knows what will happen during a no vote. Litigation? New deal? It is all something of an unknown, Macias said.

“With (Measure A) we know whats going to happen,” if it is passed, Macias said. “With a no, we don’t know. (Supporting Measure A) is us taking control of our own destiny.”

But to me, that said that, barring a legal victory to the contrary, a no vote on Measure A could lead to the city renegotiating new benefits with Vulcan. Whether or not Vulcan will listen, is certainly a question. And the company would then be put in the position of having a significant amount of leverage.

UPDATE: Azusa Councilman Keith Hanks phoned me and reminded me that there is a one year “cooling off” period following a referendum of a council action. So if a new deal were to be struck, it would have to be done in 2012.

UPDATE TWO: Macias called and had this statement regarding the potential for future negotiations:

“We have done that already. We told them no when they wanted to expand to 270 acres and the first time in May when we negated it and went back to the negotiating table. We have in fact already done that.”

On a related note, I asked Canyon City Alliance officials if they would be donating to candidates in the City Council election. President Liz Ramirez said those discussions have not taken place with board members. Chamber of Commerce board member Mercedes Castro said that after Jan. 26 (the referendum special election is Jan. 25) the group intends to disband.

UPDATE: (I really hope this is the last one, I have received more phone calls on this post than any other.) Castro called me and told me she misspoke when saying the CCA would disband following the referendum election. The group will still exist, but may close its offices, she said.

Macias then jumped in and said he would not accept any money from Canyon City Alliance.

It is well known that Vulcan is a member of the CCA, contributes services and is the major source of funding for the group.

(An earlier version of this story identified Mercedes Castro as the Chamber of Commerce President. Castro is the former president.)

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Will Josi Kenline be fired?

La Puente City Manager Josi Kenline is on the hot seat again.

There will be a performance review of Kenline’s performance during a closed session meeting of the City Council tonight. Insiders are suggesting that Kenline’s future with the city is in doubt.

LA PUENTE — The City Council will conduct a performance review of City Manager Josi Kenline in a closed session meeting today, and several City Hall insiders believe members of the council will try to fire her.

Kenline, who started a year ago after spending several months with the city as a volunteer, is in the center of a divided council and has feuded throughout the year with Mayor David Argudo.

Argudo led a council decision last week requiring Kenline to obtain approval before hiring and firing department heads.

Kenline has had problems since she started with the city. In her first five months on the job, she had three performance reviews scheduled by the council. In the past, she has asked for reviews to be done in public, but tonight’s review will be behind closed doors.

Her reason to ask for the public meetings is that she has accused Argudo of retaliating against her for personal reasons.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Herman to leave Glendora council. Could March election be the biggest political shift for the city since Herman was first elected?

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if you haven’t seen it yet, some fantastically handsome journalist is reporting that Glendora Councilman Ken Herman will not seek re-election in March.

The decision comes in a year where political ally Gary Clifford stepped down and his appointment is only serving as a fill-in.

That leaves two seats wide open on the council and incumbent Doug Tessitor left to fend off challengers all by his lonesome.

It won’t be terribly lonesome. He still as Herman’s full support in seeking re-election and Tessitor has been around since 2003, only one year less than Herman.

The pair stormed onto the Glendora political scene in 2002 when Herman, Gary Clifford and Cliff Hamlow were all elected to the council during a 2002 recall campaign. Tessitor was elected the following year.

The move started a changing of the guard in Glendora and set a political majority for nearly a decade. But with Clifford departing this year and Herman’s tenure ending in March, Tessitor will be the sole voice left from the once prominent majority.

How much will change is uncertain. Two candidates for council are John Fields and Jason Nagy, both of which are soon to be new members of the local Kiwanis club of which Herman is president.

In addition, current council members Karen Davis and Gene Murabito often agree with Tessitor and Herman on city decisions. The group is often known as a 5-0 council, even though Murabito and Tessitor love to joke about that distinction.

When I talked to Herman today, he said he hopes nothing changes.

“I hope it continues to be the way it has been,” he said. “I hope it doesn’t have a radical change.”

I screwed up: Glendora council deadline correction

I erroneously reported in the newspaper today the deadline to submit papers to run for Glendora City Council was Monday. I was wrong. I’m sorry.

The confusion arose due to the fact the deadline is different for various cities. The difference comes down to this: some cities are open Friday, some are not.

For example, Azusa is closed on Fridays so the city’s deadline is Monday. Glendora is open Fridays, so the deadline is this week, instead.

One caveat to everything I just said: It is almost a certainty that Glendora’s deadline will be extended. The rule is that if no incumbent applies to be reelected, the deadline to apply for council is extended. In this case, while Ken Herman and Doug Tessitor will most likely run for reelection, Terry Kent most certainly will not.

When Kent applied to be appointed to council earlier this year to replace the vacant seat left by Gary Clifford, he vowed not to run. It was a condition the council was looking for in an appointed person. Kent, if he intends to fulfill that promise, would then not seek election to the seat thus forcing an extension of the deadline.

The new deadline would be Dec. 15.

Diamond Bar selects new mayor, mayor pro tem

Diamond Bar planned the annual musical chairs with the mayor/mayor pro tem positions Tuesday.

The Diamond City Council on Tuesday night selected Steve Tye as mayor and Ling-Ling Chang as mayor pro tem.

Tye, who was first elected in November 2005 and re-elected in 2009, replaces Carol Herrera. This is his second term as mayor, first serving from 1997 to 1998.

Chang, first elected in November 2009, previously served on the Walnut Valley Water District Board of Directors and worked in the education field. This will be her first term serving as mayor pro tem.

Still on the council are Herrera, Ron Everett and Jack Tanaka.

The positions are largely honorary and many councils, such as Glendora and Duarte, exchange the positions on a yearly or biennial basis. For all intensive purposes, it is mostly done to choose a person who runs the council meetings. On a more nuanced basis, council members often turn to the mayor as a spokesperson for the city and the positions are used by some council members as a display of pride, leadership, or accomplishment.

Email: daniel.tedford@sgvn.com | Twitter: @dgtedford @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune

Glendora councilman Doug Tessitor’s apology

Glendora councilman Doug Tessitor was caught with his foot in his month last month when debating the merits of imposing a new set of contract restrictions on the general employees association.

Tessitor had said it was “BS” when the association claimed the police officers association and others made concessions to help spare the general employees association. It later came out – from the POA – that it was actually quite true.

To his credit, Tessitor owned it. He did so in the Tribune and made remarks at Glendora’s council meeting Tuesday admitting his mistake. (Relevant discussion is at 33:30)

The one gripe I might have is that Tessitor says that POA President Mike Henderson told him the city rejected the POA’s offer of taking a bullet for the GMEA.

When I spoke with Henderson, his characterization to me was that the city accepted their proposal, only to renege later in an effort to have equal cuts.

Henderson’s words to me were: “After we made the concession they still pursued 3 percent and we found out that it was desired to have every group in the city give up the same amount.” (italic emphasis added by me)

That doesn’t exactly jive with Tessitor’s recap of what happened.