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.”

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.)

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

El Monte getting what it’s owed

You know that friend that is constantly not bringing enough money for dinner or always needs some help buying his movie ticket or paying rent? Well, it seems Phoenix Waste and Recycling Services was kind of like that friend to El Monte. Except in this case, while you were letting your buddy slide on rent, you also had to fire the maid.

The trash service is selling its route to Valley Vista Services and will finally pay back some $500,000 to $1 million to El Monte in debt the company racked up.

I could insert various movie or T.V. references here in regards to owing someone money, but I’ll pass and instead skip to a quick preview of the story and a link.


EL MONTE – A large debt long-owed to the city by one of its trash collection companies is finally getting paid.

Phoenix Waste and Recycling Services, which collects waste from homes and businesses in various parts of the city, is selling its route to Valley Vista Services, which already collects trash in other parts of El Monte.

That transaction means Phoenix’s growing past-due bill with El Monte will get paid, according to city manager Rene Bobadilla.

Bobadilla would not reveal the amount of the total debt, saying the final accounting is still in the works. Estimates from council members and employee union watchdogs range from $500,000 to $1 million.

The debt comes from unpaid franchise fees owed to the city, as well as fees required under state law mandating recycling, the city failed to collect for years.

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

Violent crime down in largest San Gabriel Valley cities

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The amount of violent crime in the San Gabriel Valley’s three most populous cities dropped dramatically last year, reflecting a national trend, according to 2009 crime figures released Monday by FBI.

All three Valley cities of over 100,000 residents — El Monte, Pasadena and West Covina — saw a drop in both violent and property crimes with one exception. El Monte property crime saw an uptick from 2008 to 2009.

Highlights from each of the cities, according to the FBI and police chiefs:

  • West Covina brought back a crime analyst in 2008, which allowed the city to aggressively target certain areas and criminals, Police Chief Frank Wills said.
  • West Covina was also able to keep patrol officers on the streets, but had to cut its S.W.A.T. team to do so, Wills said.
  • Murders in West Covina jumped from three in 2008 to eight in 2009.
  • El Monte Police Chief Tom Armstrong said the drop in murders to three in 2009 from 12 in 2008 is proof that the spike was an aberration.
  • Pasadena had five murders in 2009 compared to three in 2008.

For more, read the story here.

Final note: We keep track of homicides in the San Gabriel Valley, as well as the FBI which relies on data provided by the law enforcement agencies. In some cases, we have a couple more murders than the FBI’s tally. Here are the totals from 2009, and what we have so far for this year. (The map pictured above shows all the 2009 murders across the San Gabriel Valley and Whittier areas.)

Email: james.wagner@sgvn.com | Twitter: @jmswgnr @sgvtribune | Facebook: SGVTribune