Duarte, Azusa and Vulcan to sit down next week per court order

As part of the ongoing legal battle filed by Duarte against Azusa’s approval of Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining project, the three parties will have a meeting next Tuesday.

In a case like this, the court mandates a settlement hearing for the three sides to discuss any options that could prevent the issue from going to court. A mediator for the meeting is possible, officials said.

All three parties will be there, but expectations are limited. Previous settlement talks between the groups have broken down, and since then heated rhetoric has been exchanged between both city staffs.

Azusa’s City Manager Fran Delach said the city remains open to talks with Duarte, but that he has no expectations going into the meeting.

“I think there is always a possibility of getting a settlement,” he said.

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

Azusa Rock Quarry battle by the numbers

Just wanted to throw out a few numbers that will be addressed in a story we will run soon about the money spent in the ongoing battle about the Azusa Rock Quarry.

Legal fees, public relations, consultants, etc. Azusa, Duarte and (presumably) Vulcan Materials Co. have all spent money in regards to the now approved amended plan that has faced a lot of scrutiny.

Here are some of the figures.

Duarte:

The city set up a $700,000 fund – Fight Against Vulcan Expansion – a few years ago anticipating a lengthy battle. Of that money, here is a breakdown of funds spent.

Legal (Rutan & Tucker): $200,707.53*
Printing, Postage, Flyers: $14,359.17
Public Relations: $34,332.07**
Technical Consultants: $18,010

*Total is for billing from Rutan to the city between 2005 to July 21, 2010.
**Is a combination of funds spent on city contracted public relations from Marry Barrow as well as Englander, Knabe and Allen.

Azusa:

The city hasn’t needed to hire a public relations firm to defend or fight the plan considering they have a technical consultant on board for the environmental impact report and staff to defend its recommendations. In addition, Vulcan has their own ability (and money) to defend its plan.

As for the environmental impact report, it cost about $613,000. (Vulcan had to reimburse the city for that money)

Also, knowing that city lawyers have been very involved in this process and will be in the future, we can assume that a chunk of the money the city spends on its city attorney and other legal fees went toward this project. Here is a city breakdown of those numbers.

Retainer for services from Best, Best and Kreiger (namely City Attorney Sonia Carvalho) – $252,315 from the city’s general fund. Other legal service charges from general fund total $79,403.

The absolute total amount of money spent of legal services for the city across all departments is $1,317, 675.

Vulcan:

Being a private company, Vulcan isn’t bound by the same public records laws as Duarte and Azusa. What we can say is they eventually had to pony up for the EIR with the $613,000.

In addition, we know they have hired and use public relations firm Curt Pringle and Associates out of Anaheim. Throughout the process (until post-approval) Curt Pringle’s Vice President Todd Priest functioned as the spokesman for Vulcan.

Curt Pringle and Vulcan have also put out flyers, launched an education campaign in Azusa to present the plan pre-voting/city discussions, callers and door-to-door campaigns (via another PR firm and Curt Pringle).

That all didn’t come free.

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

Azusa referedum still in waiting mode

Azusa citizens anxious to learn the fate of a referendum effort aimed at stopping an Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan will have to wait a bit longer.

The Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office said they have no estimated date to finish confirming the alleged more than 2,532 signatures gathered to put the referendum on a ballot. The group needs 1,650 confirmed signatures from registered voters in Azusa.

Azusans Against Mining Expansion submitted the signatures on Aug. 19 to the Azusa city clerk, who handed over the signatures to the county recorder’s office.

The referendum, if approved, would either be part of a special election or future city election. Its goal is to strike down the development agreement associated with Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan.

The referendum group believes that by terminating the development agreement, the use permit approved for Vulcan would also be nullified. City officials believe the permit would still exist, but the city would lose out on various benefits, including taxes from Vulcan.

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

Duarte files lawsuit against Azusa, Vulcan

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And here we go….

Duarte, after getting permission to do so from the City Council, officially filed its lawsuit against Azusa to try and stop Vulcan Materials Co.’s mining plan.

Specifically, Duarte will attack the environmental impact report done by Steve Lilburn, a consultant for Azusa, and the inadequacies Duarte believes exist in the document. If that is found to be flawed, it would then lead to overturning the entire decision to approve by the council.

In addition, Duarte will seek to prove Azusa violated the Brown Act when they voted, without it being on the agenda, to reconsider Vulcan’s proposal after initially turning it down.

Here is Duarte’s statement they released Tuesday evening:

“With the filing of this lawsuit, the City of Azusa will no longer be able to turn a deaf ear to Duarte. It will now be up to a judge in a court of law. We are very confident that the judge will be in agreement with the City of Duarte,” said Duarte City Manager, Darrell George.

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

Judy Chu plans to picnic for the Azusa referendum

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Congresswoman Judy Chu will speak at a fundraising event to support a referendum effort against an Azusa mining plan.

The potluck picnic fundraiser will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Duarte Historical Museum, 751 Encanto Parkway.

Chu has been an opponent of the mining plan after she heard numerous outcries from Duarte officials and residents at various meetings.

She has since condemned the plan and the documents surrounding it. The congresswoman represents both Azusa and Duarte.

Funds raised the event will support the referendum effort. Officials with the campaign have said they need the money to pay for copying costs and legal fees.

With its approved plan, Vulcan swapped its east 80 acres originally permitted for mining for 80 acres on the western end of its property near Duarte.

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

Your weekly weekend roundup and crystal ball (a.k.a. Internet) look

I am not sure what news could overtake the bittersweet emotions of the Angels losing three out of four to the Rangers, moving to seven games out of first place, and trading 8-year Angel veteran Joe Saunders while getting a great pitcher (and hometown hero?) Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Haren went to Bishop Amat High School and owns a home in West Covina, so in a way, he heads home by being traded to the Angels and can become something of a hometown favorite with them.

And in a similar twist of fate, Saunders is traded to Arizona where he owns a home in Phoenix. If that is solace to Saunders who fell just short of tears when speaking to reporters is unknown.

As for the remainder of the weekend news from the Tribune, look no further than the links below. (Actually, if you browse the website for a bit you will find many tales of lore and city road construction projects. These are just some highlights.)

- For 80 years the El Calvario Community Center in El Monte provided classes, daycare and tutoring to neighborhood children and teens. But when the center closed down nearly three years ago, it began providing quite the opposite – a hideaway for methamphetamine users.

- Baldwin Park will reconsider its vehicle impound policy after the Police Department took a woman’s car for 15 days – even though she was in the passenger seat and willing to drive her car away from a police checkpoint.

- Majestic Realty Co. CEO and chairman Ed Roski Jr. said he remains committed to returning professional football to the region and building a state-of-the-art NFL stadium near the junction of the 60 and 57 freeways.

- Anyone who has an opinion about a Navy proposal to clean up most of the contamination it left near Morris Dam during torpedo tests has one last chance to share it with government officials.

- Duarte is going to take legal action against Azusa over a recently approved plan to mine part of the Azusa Rock Quarry near Duarte’s border.

As for the week ahead, special council meeting in Azusa tonight at 6:30 pm. at the Azusa Light and Water Conference Room, 729 N. Azusa Ave., will discuss purchasing a new police vehicle and a new contract with the Azusa Chamber of Commerce.

Glendora’s council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at City Hall, 116 E. Foothill Blvd., will look at, among other items, fees for city services.

Also Tuesday, San Dimas City Council will consider a request for the Five Cities 10K run on Nov. 6.

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

New spokesperson for Vulcan Materials

For those of you familiar with the ongoing issue of the Azusa Rock Quarry, the plan from Vulcan Materials Co., and the battle between Azusa and Duarte, you are familiar with Vulcan spokesman Todd Priest, who is with the public relations firm Curt Pringle and Associates.

Well … I learned today that while Priest and his crew will remain as part of the team working for Vulcan, a new spokeswoman has taken over as the voice of the company from here on out.

Peg Casey, an employee with Vulcan, will be the one answering questions through the litigation process.

I spoke with Casey today following up on Duarte’s decision to pursue litigation. She has worked with Vulcan for 16 years and has been involved with the Azusa Rock Quarry project since 2003. Here what she had to say and more about the impending lawsuit in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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

Isn’t this where we always thought it would go? Duarte will take Azusa to court

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Just when you thought it was over there is breaking news the Duarte City Council has unanimously decided to pursue litigation against Vulcan and Azusa over the recently approved Azusa Rock Quarry mining project.

OK, you didn’t really think it was over did you?

This is really only breaking news because it happened last night at a closed session council meeting. In truth, this probably surprises no one. Not me, not Duarte (the vote was unanimous), not Azusa, and not Vulcan.

Azusa has said all along they anticipated litigation, Vulcan and Azusa agreed in the development agreement that Vulcan would pay to fight any legal challenge, and Duarte has that $700,000 Fight Against Vulcan Expansion fund.

Plus, when Duarte, Vulcan and Azusa failed to reach a settlement deal earlier this year, if the project was approved what other outcome was there?

Now we will get to see what Duarte’s legal arguments will be. My guess is they will argue about the flaws in the environmental impact report, their believed contradictions in the development agreement, and the lack of a full evaluation and consideration of alternative project options including mining both sides of the canyon without cutting down any ridge lines.

Add in the potential for two Brown Act violations by Azusa, including the fact the original vote to reconsider the project was originally not on the council agenda.

Azusa (via Vulcan’s lawyers) will have to defend those allegations and its review of the project in court.

How does this affect mining for now? Duarte can seek an injunction that would prevent operations until the legal challenges end. The court would have to approve any injunction.

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

Weekend roundup and tonight’s events

I hope everyone enjoyed their heat-wave filled weekends.

In case you were out enjoying your life, here is your weekend roundup so you can get the news and be an informed member of society and all that.

There is this whopper of a story where Glendora teen bartered his way to a Porsche after starting with a cell phone. (I know, I’m awestruck too. And jealous. Mostly jealous.)

When it comes to taking money from groups pushing for new laws – and introducing their so-called sponsored bills – Assemblyman Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, stands out.

Three officers were severely injured when they were attacked with beer bottles while trying to break up a party Saturday, officials said.

As for the future, the Montebello City Council will meet at 4:30 p.m. today to discuss releasing Interim City Administrator Randy Narramore from his contract and appointing an interim to take his place.

And Azusa meets tonight with a second reading of the Vulcan Materials Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry plan on tap.

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

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.

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