Sunday, December 27, 2009

glory glory hallelujah

I don't recommend the crappy Chinese restaurant in Chino Hills that a friend dragged me to for lunch the other day, but I do recommend the drive back.

Just after you pass under the 60 heading north on Garey, you've got the most glorious view: Reddening sweetgum trees lining the road, palm trees in the median, and a snow-capped mountain straight ahead, as if Garey went directly to the summit. I don't know what mountain it is -- something west of the Baldy/Etiwanda/Cucamonga complex.

If I could have stopped the car and taken a photo from the middle of the road, I would have. Since I couldn't preserve the experience, you'll just have to make the drive yourself.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Anonymous writes

Anonymous left the following in the comments to my last post. S/he admitted that it was completely off topic, so I'm spinning it out as a post of its own. M-M-M-My Pomona is a community blog, and anyone who wants to sign up as an author (under whatever pseudonym) should drop me a line with an email address and ask to be added.

In the meantime, I give you.... Anonymous!

Pomona fiscal Budget Woe's may be off comment but important to the resident's of Pomona.
I wanted to share my opinion. So here’s my rant.

The Pomona City government is facing another budget shortfall of over $4.5M. Last year they outsourced a few city services like a few park maintenance positions, outsourcing street sweeping, building and safety and the like. The City departments were all asked to reduce their budgets by 10%, and most did.

Pomona’s finance department grossly under estimated future (2009 2010) revenues resulting in this year’s budget shortfall again! I presume they were expecting that the property values in Pomona would take off and maybe double. Nonetheless, and despite their gross miscalculation we are only ½ way through the year and face another financial crisis.

Idea’s that are currently floated within the City are to, close the Public Library, eliminate park maintenance, another round of layoff’s that will further impede service, and reduce the Police department services, while delivering salary increases to the cops still on the payroll. In other words, Education, children services, and public safety take a back seat, because somehow the fiscally responsible thing to do is hand the control of the City to our gangs, and invite the uneducated hoards of surrounding gang members a promise of safe refuge.

It’s time the City take bold steps that would build up the Pomona families and children.

Outsource the Police Department To LA County – The Pomona Police Department is an expensive under performing City service. Aside from all the liability law suite’s that they create, they under serve the community. The City can obtain a larger Police presence, that are better trained, have state of the art technical equipment, and the backup of the entire LA County Sheriff’s Department. Better service and capabilities at ½ of the $50 million dollar price tag that they now consume.

Outsource the Public Library – This is a service we may lose completely if something isn’t done and savings aren’t obtained. We over pay the city Director and employee’s while cutting services to the public. A large portion of the public depends on the Library for education computer and internet services. Having the Library outsourced would decrease the general budget and still provide service to those that depend on the Library.

These two departments will no doubt rise to arms in an effort to remain at the Pomona money trough where they have grown use to gorging their huge appetites from.
However the citizens of Pomona must to rise up and insist that the Mayor, the City Council, and the City bureaucrats do not create a disaster in our city, but take bold measures to insure we keep, and improve our vital City services to create a long term strategy that provides a financial surplus. I am concerned as a resident of Pomona, for the long term health of our City. Outsourcing these enormous and expensive services will do just that.

it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

So, the Pomona Heritage progressive dinner was this past weekend -- isn't anyone going to post a report? Is it true that John Clifford and Ed Tompkins got into a brawl in front of Paula Lanz's house over which one of them got to wear the tasseled lampshade on his head and which one had to settle for the pleated one (because pleats flatter no one)?

In the absence of salacious gossip, I'll raise another issue that's been making the rounds: A neighbor (the same one who shot a raccoon in his yard) has a serious grudge against a large tree in his yard but doesn't think he should have to get city permission to have it removed. So he is going to spike it with poisoned nails that supposedly will kill it in a matter of months.

Do such things really exist? Supposedly they're sold at Home Depot, Lowe's, etc., but I can't find any trace of them on the web.

For what it's worth, rehearsing our old argument about raising major tree removal permits so high that people don't bother is rather beside the point; this particular neighbor wouldn't bother if the price were 15¢.

Friday, November 27, 2009

winged cacophony

Ah, fall -- the season when the parrots of Temple City and Arcadia take a little vacation in Pomona. A pretty large flock just flew overhead a few minutes ago, sounding like a swarm of demons, and I've seen them a few other times this year. I wonder why Pomona and why late fall every year? I've read what I could on the subject of the local pandemonium of parrots, but the question goes unanswered.

For those of you not up on your local parrotry, this particular flock dates back to well before the 1920s, and it's made up of at least six species -- one of them not even a parrot at all, but a parakeet. Their base of operations has been the current LA County Arboretum since back when it was Lucky Baldwin's giant estate. Apparently our tendency to plant very tall trees and exotic non-native plants is particularly conducive to urban parrots.

The important thing to know is that San Francisco and Brooklyn got nothin' on us. (Okay, maybe they have a few things on us, but nothing psittaform.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

good bread, good meat, good god, let's eat

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. This is my favorite holiday of the year -- no religious or patriotic foofaraw, just cooking, eating, and hanging out with your favorite people. And maybe a little drinking. Perhaps some football (touch or spectator). Even the neighborhood cats (all 25 of 'em) were in a festive mood when I went out to get the paper: They were zooming around and playing together, which you never see on a work day.

In honor of all the eating we're about to do (and to procrastinate on getting into the kitchen and making pie), I thought I'd post about a meal earlier in the week and far from home.

Tuesday night, Dave Allen and I hopped the train and met K. at Union Station, from which we traipsed over to Bottega Louie, in the Jewelry District (or is it the Furniture District? I get confused on where one district ends and another begins).

It's in a huge old building that used to house Brooks Brothers, and the inside is enormous in all three dimensions. The walls are undoubtedly plaster like any other wall, but they've turned to marble in my memory -- not only because they are gleaming white but also because the place is louder than the Glass House during an International Noise Conspiracy show.

I don't get restaurants that are designed to be noisy. Yes, I know it turns tables, but surely wanting to talk over a meal isn't just for the middle-aged. Are there really that many people who go out to dinner with people they'd prefer not to talk to?

But we were there for the food, and I was impressed. The menu is pretty swoon-worthy, and I had a helluva time trying to decide. They have a few pizzas, a few pastas, a few salads, a few sandwiches, a few mains -- and three dozen small plates, each of which looks more delectable than the last.

In the end, K. got the carpaccio and the arancini (little balls of rice with cheese inside, fried to look like oranges -- hence the name). D-Bomb got the clam, roasted red peppers, & thyme pizza and a side of broccolini. I got the trenné (a triangular tube pasta -- imagine a pup tent) with prime rib and kale and a side of corn, bacon, & chard. K. had some eclectic beer I can't recall, D-Bomb had a vanilla Italian soda, and I got a $5 glass of Barolo that was mighty tasty (and a generous pour).

I didn't try the carpaccio, but K.'s arancini were perhaps the best I've ever had (I'm not normally a fan), although he said they were too spicy for him. It must have been the sauce (which I didn't get much of), because I detected no spice at all. D-Bomb's clam pizza was very tasty, although I wasn't expecting the clams to be breaded and fried before baking. I could have done without that, I think (and I imagine it didn't improve for breakfast -- D-Bomb took part of it home).

My pasta wasn't what I was expecting. I started out disappointed, but by the time I finished it, I was quite happy with it. Which is not to say that I couldn't recommend improvements. It's a very light dish: pasta, plenty of bits of prime rib, Italian black kale, shavings of parmesan, all in a light flavorful beef broth. My first recommendation is predictable: more kale! I am a huge fan of the dark leafy greens, and this could have used a lot more. Also, for some unknown reason (novelty?), they sauté the pasta after it's cooked, but that runs counter to the brothy spirit of the dish.

The corn, bacon, and chard side dish was fine, although it wasn't as good as I was hoping. The bacon was unsmoked, and there was barely any chard in it at all -- but it gives me ideas for making it at home, where I have fancy bacon from up in the holler (bacon made from a pig with a name, who got his ears scratched daily!) and enough chard to choke a cheetah.

I really liked BottLou except for the noise. I imagine it would be great during off hours, and great with a huge group, but by 8pm, it was a freaking zoo. (One that, as Jonathan Gold observed, seems to be staffed according to the terms of the USC Sorority Full-Employment Act.)

In food&bev news closer to home, we're going to begin Thanksgiving (cooking, not dining) with a magnum of Segura Viuda champagne (okay, cava) -- $10 at Cost Plus World Market in San Dimas, which is quite a deal! Meg-Bob says stock up for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

was that a masonic boom I heard?

I know that most of our readers are devoted followers of D-Bomb Allen, but for the few who aren't, allow me to recommend Jennifer Cappuccio Maher's slideshow of Pomona's Masonic Temple (which is celebrating its centenary) associated with D-Bomb's column from last friday. I've loved that building since the moment I clapped eyes on it, and it's great to see pictures of the inside.

Both my grandfathers were Masons (well, one was a Shriner)... I wonder if they'd let me in on the grounds of family connection and admiration of their architecture?

Hey, John and other PoHer bigwigs: Can we get the Masonic Temple on the home tour?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

toasted and tossed on foothill

Alas, poor Tofu Kitchen, I knew it, Horatio.

Neighbor/co-worker Rod and I tried to hit Tofu Kitchen for lunch yesterday (it's on our regular oh-my-god-get-me-away-from-this-place lunch rotation) but there was a For Rent sign in the window, plus a note taped up on the door saying "Closed. Will reopen under new management."

Tofu Kitchen wasn't great, but it had some homestyle Korean dishes that I liked pretty well. The kimchi stew was good, as were the cold-water noodles. (Their bibimbap, not so much.) I'm sorry to see it go.

We ate instead at Hayato and had a tasty mess of grub.

barred and grilled on second street

We finally got around to trying the new 2nd Street Bar & Grill last night with a pal. Overall, I think it's an improvement.

The decor is pretty much the same (which I have always liked). And the general personnel style is similar too -- an eager-to-please owner, a couple of waitresses dressed in black. The cook is now a pony-tailed Anglo rather than a shaved-headed Asian, but the energy level is the same.

The menu is the biggest difference, and I also think that it signals the best chance of success: It's significantly simpler than before, and significantly cheaper. There are perhaps half a dozen appetizers, maybe 10 sandwiches (burgers and paninis), a few salads, and a few mains (pastas etc.). The sandwiches are all $7-9, and the mains aren't much more. This is in stark contrast with the Bistro menu, which had way too many items at way too high a price.

The one thing the Bistro menu had over the Bar & Grill menu is font size. The new menus are in a very spidery font at about 12 points, which is far too small for the lighting conditions there.

All three of us had panini -- me the Brasato (hot Italian sausage, cheese, tomatoes), K. the Forestiere (mushrooms and fresh mozzarella), and Friend the Caprese (tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil). The bread is a very pale baguette that I watched the cook cut up fresh.

K. won the food sweepstakes; the Forestiere was pretty tasty. My Brasato was good too, although K. (who has experience in such matters) opined that it had "Hot Pocket nature." I didn't taste Friend's Caprese, but I am of the opinion that mid-November is not the time for Caprese anything, at least not north of the Tropic of Cancer. Friend said it was okay but not great.

Panini come with either salad (field greens with dressing on the side) or fries (frozen out of a bag, but reasonably good).

Their beer selection isn't an embarrassment -- some yellow stuff plus Sierra Nevada. Their wine selection kinda is -- house red (Red Rock merlot) or house white (didn't ask), and that's it.

The service was friendly but not all that professional. The owner's name is Ruben/Reuben. He's a fairly young guy (maybe under 30), and he's friendly and anxious for the place to be a success. But he and the wait staff spent most of their time sitting at the rearmost table eating and drinking with some friends, so it was nearly impossible to get water glasses refilled.

Overall impression: Same great ambience. Improved menu. Pretty good food. Inexperienced personnel that really wants to make a go of it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Election Results In!

It looks like we have four new board members for the Pomona Unified School District. And if you don't think your vote counts, realize that some of these races were VERY close.

From the Daily Bulletin web site, with 100% of the precincts reporting, here are the results:










Precincts Reporting
Total Precincts
% Precincts Reporting

For the one-year seat, it was:







Precincts Reporting
Total Precincts
% Precincts Reporting

Noting that there are 59,473 registered voters in the school district (different than the city), that means that there was a 9.25% turnout of voting (5843 votes cast).

So, do we see any trends? I note that with Jason Rothman's election that he only beat incumbent Steve Lustro by 129 votes. I, personally, would tend to attribute that to the strong effort made by the teacher's union on his behalf.  However, taking into consideration Wong's strong showing, I might also conclude that it might have been a strong indication of voting from South Pomona (Phillips Ranch) and Diamond Bar areas of the district.

The poor showing by Robert Torres, despite a strong push by Assemblywoman Norma Torres via robocalls and a lot of signage, might indicate that there was apathy in North Pomona, and that not getting the teachers' endorsement hurt as well.

But how influential were the teachers? Only two of the people that they endorsed (Rothman and Pearlman) won, while their arch nemesis, Wong, won handily.

Oh, and if you're interested, the Mt. Sac Board race was:







Precincts Reporting
Total Precincts
% Precincts Reporting

So Water Board Commissioner, and perennial candidate for Mt. Sac Board, John Mendoza was once again rejected.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

an ashen-packed lunch

I had lunch plans with my co-worker Rod, who recently bought a house down the street from me. As he was waiting for me to hit send on one last email, he noticed huge smoke clouds out the window, billowing over what looked like Lincoln Park.

First thing we did was call the non-emergency cop line and ask if our houses were burning down. "Where do you live?" the dispatcher asked. Upon being told, she assured us that oh no, it's south of there.

The next thing we did was hop in the car and follow the smoke. And then once we got close, we found a taquería (Tacos Mexico at the corner of Garey and Olive), sat in the window, and watched the tankers.

And man, were the tankers out in force. There were two fixed-wings and three choppers, all dropping what looked like black paint. They got the fired knocked down in pretty short order, too. When we arrived, at 12:30 or so, the hillside south of the 71 had a number of rivulets of flame running along it, plus giant plumes of smoke. By the time I'd eaten my ceviche tostada and Rod his chile relleno, no flame was visible and the hillside was steaming more than it was smoking. And the car was covered in ash.

As for Tacos Mexico, it was perfectly fine but nothing special, for the most part. Too bad the fire didn't occur tomorrow -- we could have enjoyed 60¢ tacos!

And yes, that photo is by me.

one more item for your to-do list

Don't forget to stop by the polls sometime today, if you haven't already. And if you've lost your sample ballot [raises hand guiltily], you can download another one here, as well as seeing where your polling place is. Perhaps I'll see you there...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Candidate Choices

Am I the only one who finds it a little amusing that the slate of candidates for the PUSD Board of Education is more impressive than the typical City Council election? I counted at least 3 doctorates.

Can we just boot the Council and give the School Board both positions?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

the exorcists: vote for any three

The following arrived in the mail the other day -- maybe you got one too. On the front is an eagle the size of my fist, with giant letters proclaiming VOTER INFORMATION GUIDE in the same font as the official sample ballots. In smaller print, it instructs me to take it to my polling place and use it while voting.

I was suspicious from the start, and confirming my suspicions was the work of 15 seconds on the web: It's a flat-out advertising organ that pays no attention to political stance or even coherence of opinion (I found an example on the web where the two opponents in a race had both paid and were both endorsed).

I dislike advertising that pretends to be something it's not (property-tax adjustment scams, ads that are meant to look like certified mail, and so forth); they're deleterious to a well-ordered society. If a county CFO can fall prey to a Nigerian bank scam, how many poor sods are going to believe these ads' claims and take them as gospel?

As I read the so-called Voter Information Guide, I was all set to be critical of the candidates who paid this dude money (he's some scam artist out of Sherman Oaks, apparently). But then I came to the VOTE, VOTE, VOTE paragraph. Go on, read it carefully. Let me help you.

What I'd like to know is, How does exorcize one's right to vote? The only way I can think of offhand is to commit a felony. Is that really what these candidates want us to do?

Spelling remains perhaps the most reliable means of spam detection (when was the last time you got spam email that was written perfectly? That's right: never). But if I were a school board candidate -- a school board candidate -- I would hesitate to place paid advertising on a slate mailer with spelling mistakes. Some random blogger might think that I had approved the copy beforehand. And if spelling is a reliable means of spam detection, what other forms of imposture can it detect?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

hunting and gathering around town

Why you should shop at Stater Brothers and not Vons:
1. The large bottle of Grey Poupon is THREE DOLLARS CHEAPER. Unfortunately, I discovered that in the bad way, not the good way.
2. If you buy two bags of Doritos (I learned from the woman ahead of me in line), the cashier will say, "Are you sure you don't want to get a third bag? It's buy-two-get-one-free, you know." I've never seen that at Vons.

I stopped by the PBC to pick up a loaf of bread on my way home from errand-running this morning. I've never been there on a saturday (usually I'm a 7am-on-weekdays girl), but the place was thronged. I had to wait outside for 10 minutes. Dan & Jess report that business is booming, in large part due to the Western U folks. Who doesn't love a tale of local business success that doesn't begin with negotiation through a car window?

Friday, October 23, 2009

One LA Forum with School Board Candidates

I attended last night's PUSD Board Candidates Accountability Session, hosted by One LA. All ten candidates attended (yes, da Sons made an appearance).

One LA accountability sessions are really pretty fascinating. In addition to giving candidates opportunities to speak briefly (about 60 seconds) on specific issues, they ask the candidates to respond yes or no to key questions about these issues.

What key issues served as the focus for last night's session?

1. Reduction in force and layoff issues
2. Adult education
3. Parent/volunteer policy
4. Algebra Project
5. Willingness to meet in early January with One LA if you're elected

The questions asked about each issue were lengthy, and my pen didn't move that fast. But, my understanding of the gist of the questions is as follows:

1. Do you think we should try to prevent job loss and, when inevitable, do you think we should find humane ways of letting people know they are being laid off?
2. Do you think we should preserve funding for adult education programs?
3. Do you think we should modify the district's volunteer policy to make it easier for parents and community members to become involved in schools?
4. Do you endorse innovative educational programs?
5. If you're elected, to you commit to meeting with leaders from One LA in early January?

(Can any readers provide more specificity on these questions?)

When individuals actually provided a yes or no answer, all said yes they support to work for improvement on the listed issues. By my count, there were two times during the night where candidates failed to respond to the yes/no issue (unless you count, "Yes, I'd like to address these issues openly" -- that response seemed dodgy to me).

Listening to the one-minute responses gave me a good sense of candidates' quality of thought and insight on the issues. Given I knew absolutely nothing about any of these candidates' positions or qualificiations prior to the session, I was thrilled to leave the meeting with a much better sense of who seems ready for an elected position and who I am willing to support. I won't provide a blow-by-blow of reactions to each candidate, but I will say:

Big thumbs up for Hank Mollet. His careful thinking about the issues is obviously informed by years in the classroom. He came across as well-spoken, balanced, and in the race for admirable reasons. If I could vote for just one candidate, it would be him.

I believe there is another opportunity to meet the candiates next Tuesday. Does anyone know the time and place?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Cafe in Town

After getting my lovely lady locks highlighted and trimmed by Cherie Savoie at her downtown Pomona salon, I meandered over to Saffron, downtown Pomona's newest eatery.

Located at 141 W. Fourth Street, Saffron offers an always-changing menu of soups, sandwiches, and baked goodies. I chased my tasty turkey, bacon, and chedder panini with a chocolate chip cookie bar. Both were delicious.

There are a couple other Saffrons in the area (San Dimas and Riverside). I don't yet see the Pomona location, which opened just last week, listed on the website, but this is definitely the same company.

Let's show them a little Pomona hospitality!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

get schooled on schools

I don't know if anyone else caught the post on the Daily Bulletin's Pomona Now blog about the school-board candidate forum, but I was rather unimpressed. Not by the post (although if those were the two most interesting questions to cover...), but by what the candidates said. Were any of our loyal readers there to report more fully?

One item I was unimpressed by was the presence of all the candidates except the Sons (Robert Torres and Jason Rothman). I'd be delighted to have my suspicions about nepotism disproved, but the only way to do that is to come out to these events and demonstrate content and convictions.

I was also unimpressed by the answers to the question about education in "the arts, social studies, geography, or economics." Several candidates seemed to be saying that in these tough economic times (cue the violin), parents will have to take care of that. Great -- so the educated keep getting more educated, and the less educated slide further down the hill.

The best answer, though, was DOCTOR Roberta Perlman's, in which she lumped the sciences in with the arts in terms of seemingly-peripheral subjects. Nancy Matarrita had the best defense of arts education, saying that the arts help keep kids in school (presumably by giving kids another venue in which to excel).

All these half-baked opinions of mine are based only on the DB article, but there is another candidates forum coming up on thursday, sponsored by One LA. It's at the First Christian Church on Artesia (off of Garey, by the hospital) at 7pm.

Reading over the info (sent to me by our own Pomona Joe), I see that it is explicitly not a debate; candidates will only have one minute to respond to each question. Instead, One LA envisions the forum as a way "to let them know our values and ask them to commit to working with us on them."

If any candidates are reading this (yeah, Meg, don't flatter yourself), I encourage them to use that minute to say something that will really give us a sense of who they are, not just to reiterate how much they care and how important our schools are. I assume that every single candidate shares those convictions. Show me how you differ from the others, and you'll probably get my vote.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Public transit in Pomona to be gutted come February

According to the below staff report on the Foothill Transit Executive Board agenda, Foothill Transit is slashing service on almost every single bus that comes into Pomona. Only the 286, 482, 492, and 493 are unscathed.

Foothill Cuts
Lines in Pomona to be slashed in February 2010 due to a budget crisis are the following:
  • Silver Streak - reduce service to 20 minutes in the off peak hours (from 15 minutes today) and 30 minutes on weekends (from 20 minutes today). Note that originally, service was supposed to be expanded because of revenue received from the Federal government as a result of converting the I-10 carpool lane west of the 605 into a high occupancy/toll lane.
  • Line 855 (Holt, San Antonio, San Bernardino) - eliminate service along Radcliffe Avenue.
  • Line 699 (Fairplex Park and Ride service) - eliminate three late morning trips (currently, the last trip leaves Fairplex at 8:28 a.m., while traffic on the 10 remains heavy until well past 9 a.m. most mornings) and eliminate one early afternoon trip (the first trip currently leaving Downtown at 2:00 p.m.)
  • Line 480 (Valley, Humane, Mission, East End, Holt, Indian Hill) - cut service in half during middays, evenings, and weekends to every 60 minutes. (Just three years ago, prior to the implementation of the Silver Streak, service operated every 15 minutes seven days a week along these streets.)
  • Line 291 (Garey, Foothill) - reduce service from every 20 minutes middays to every 30 minutes.
  • Line 195 (Holt, Reservoir, Philadelphia/Rio Rancho, Phillips Ranch) - eliminate ALL buses on middays and weekends. This eliminates all transit service to Phillips Ranch, the Reservoir industrial corridor, and the Wal-Mart and Winco outside of a few trips during peak hours.
  • Line 187 (Foothill) - eliminate five trips in the early morning (the first bus leaves Montclair at 5 a.m. and Pasadena at 4:40 a.m., passing through Pomona at 5:16 and 6:24 respectively, with service every half hour).
No public hearing appears to be scheduled for these cuts (while there were two public meetings scheduled, one in Pomona, to cancel lightly used Line 189, which comes nowhere near Pomona). While all transit agencies are taking it on the chin, the cuts should be distributed more equitably among communities, especially considering the highly transit-dependent nature of Pomona.

The Silver Streak, unfortunately, continues to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, despite higher fares and low ridership. Unlike in West Covina, where the Silver Streak makes five stops, the Silver Streak only makes one stop in Pomona. When I take the Silver Streak late at night, I routinely see half a dozen to a dozen people walk unknown distances to get home, since the 480 no longer operates at that hour, or the transfer wait is too long. Although the route is supposed to be an express route, that doesn't stop West Covina from having more stops. At the very least, a stop at Holt Avenue and a stop near the 10 freeway would provide access to greater numbers of people, and enhance ridership. Better yet, rather than running duplicative service, run the Silver Streak weekdays only and divert the remaining service to Line 480 so that Mission Boulevard can at least have a bus every half hour.

Incidentally, Paula Lantz is on Foothill Transit's board. What does she feel about all of these cuts to Pomona's service? Shouldn't the pain be spread around the different communities, which also have low ridership services, rather than removing transit service to areas far away from remaining service?

Friday, October 16, 2009

25th Annual Pomona Home Tour

The geriatric home lovers are throwing their 25th annual home tour this Sunday. The tour includes 5 homes, the Ebell museum, and an inside look at the Pomona Fox theatre.

The tour runs from 11AM-5PM. Day of tour tickets can be purchased for $25 at the Ebell Club starting at 10AM. Tickets can also be purchased for a limited time on the Pomona Heritage website and if you do it quickly, you can buy them for $20.

The proceeds from the Home Tour fund the annual Restoration Workshop and the Pomona Heritage grant program. Check the Pomona Heritage website for information on these two programs and don't forget to click on the 'Home Tour' link for a smidgen of detail on the Home Tour and the "BUY NOW" button.

I couldn't find a convenient exterior Fox photo to pilfer, so just remember that the Fox IS on the Tour.

PiGP in tha house!

The LA Times informs me that there was a huge prostitution sting on Holt last night, resulting in the arrest of 30 guys and dolls.

Surely it's no coincidence that our own Pride in Garfield Park was just complaining of this on the NW blog. Chalk one up to the power of blogging!

toro! toro! toro!

I've heard that once upon a time -- perhaps back in the orange-grove era -- Nogi Sushi was really good, but ever since we've lived in the West Inland Empire, Nogi has been wretched.

Thus I was delighted to see that Nogi is Nomore, replaced by another sushi-ya called Hayato. Last night, after a long day, I dragged K. out to give it a try.

And the decision is: Hayato FTW!

I spent a big chunk of my 20s in Japan, and I'm a terrible snob when it comes to Japanese food. I want my washoku to taste properly Japanese, not inflected with Korean or Chinese flavor profiles (or Italian or Ethiopian...).

But I'm happy to report that Hayato made me happy. Everything was great, and very Nihon-teki.

K. could eat sushi every night for the rest of his life, but while I could eat Japanese food forever, sushi is a once-in-a-while treat for me. So he ordered the sushi deluxe platter (moriawase), I had the oyako donburi (a big delicious mess of rice, onion, parent, and child -- er, chicken and egg), and we split an order of gyoza.

Sushi: Generous with the nigiri, excellent fish quality, well cut (and that's a big deal to Japanese sushiphiles). K. said the rice wasn't quite up to his standards, but perhaps it wasn't sweet enough for him (he prefers everything to be very sweet, except for me).

Gyoza: Homemade in formation, homestyle in filling. These tasted like the gyoza made at the gyoza parties my friends used to throw.

Oyakodon: Very tasty, generous portion.

Last and most of all, miso soup. You know the old song "Billy Boy," with its line, "Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy"? Well, misoshiru is the measuring stick of a cook in Japan. This misoshiru was better than anything I've had within 10 miles of the house, although you can get better in Little Tokyo. It had plenty of wakame (seaweed) in it -- very homestyle -- but the tofu was diced up in a brunois, just like in restaurants.

Overall, Hayato has a very Japanese feel, and the itamaesan and the servers were Japanese, speaking Japanese among themselves in what I think was a Northern accent.

Like the governator, I'll be back.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Events this week

Here's a rundown:

10/14 Pomona Public Library Big Read event
"Make your own Buck"
4-5PM children 3+ learn to make a puppet

10/14 Joint Study Session of the Planning Commission and City Council
Pomona Today: Economic and Place-Related Issues and Opportunities
Westmont Park Community Center 6PM

10/14 Farmer's Market in Metro Pomona

10/15 The Great California Shake Out at 10:15AM
The largest earthquake drill ever.

10/15 Pomona Public Library Big Read event **"Call of the Wild" Bingo**
Prizes and "Call of the Wild" themed items will be given away

10/15 Pomona Big Read Event at the Ebell Club
Sue Hodson will lecture on the life of Jack London.
7PM Lecture starts, reception to follow
Thanks to Ren for posting

10/15 Meet the Candidates
Willie White Park Focus Group is hosting a forum to meet the School Board candidates
3065 Battram Street
Thanks to Pride for posting

Pomona Public Library hosts "Adventures in dog sledding" with Adventure Quest, Inc. Iditarod Sled Dog demonstration
Saturday Oct. 17 in front of library 1-3PM

More Big Read events

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Me, go clubbing? Not in years. But according to the Daily Bulletin, the city and Angelo's Pizzeria have worked out a deal, and one that seems to preserve its after(pizza)hours club business.

Looking over the terms of the deal, I can't immediately tell what the compromises are. It looks like it will still be a bumpin' place after 8pm (when they will be required to start carding).

Half of me is grumpy about it. I'm still sore about the time K. and I decided (finally) to try Angelo's, but when we got there (at about 8pm on a friday night) it was a complete zoo and was even very-slightly-menacing.

But the other half of me tells that half, "Oh STFU, old lady. Just because you aren't going to dress up like a hoochy-mama and go do the booty clap at a dance club doesn't mean that other people don't have a right. Stop trying to turn Pomona into Claremont."

Rude as Other Half is, I think she's right. I'll just sit home watching Masterpiece Theatre and drinking gin out of a teacup.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

dining in and out of town

Last night we were tired from a long week and not up for cooking, so we headed to 2nd Street Bistro. As K. says, it's not exactly good, but it's here.

Imagine our surprise at finding that it was closed up tight, with an application for a b&w permit in the window. I'm not surprised that they went under; I'm just surprised that they haven't gone under before now, frankly. They tried hard, but the full range of competencies just wasn't there. The last time we ate there, maybe nine months ago, they didn't know the difference between a poached egg and a hard-boiled egg (in a classic French dish where it makes all the difference).

We ended up skipping town for downtown Laverne, where we were planning on gyros at Angel's but diverted at the last minute to T. Phillips Alehouse or whatever that place is on D Street.

Upshot: too similar (or even identical?) to Claremont's Heroes for my taste. Good beers on tap (although my Anchor Steam was kinda flat or even elderly), good service, huuuuge portions, miserable food.

Where do you go when you're too worn down to cook and there's no frozen pizza in the house?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm still here

This is either very sad, or an expression of democracy in action. Your choice.

Live tweeting continues, even most of the audience is gone, at

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dog-Cat or Cat-Dog

Am I the only one who has actually read the proposed Inland Valley Humane Society (IVHS) contract???

Why does it cost $10/day to feed a Pomona dog, but only $7/day to feed a Claremont, Chino, Chino Hills, La Verne, or Montclair dog? Same question for cats? Do our stray dogs and cats get better food? Or do the workers get hazard pay......."Oh No! I don't want to feed that cat.....It's a Pomona cat!"

If the proposed increase in dog fees is related to an increase in service calls, then why does IVHS want the dog fees to go up but not the cat fees? According to the data presented, cats account for about 60% of the service calls, are less likely to be adopted, and are picked up by owners less frequently.

Why would you decrease the difference between altered dog fees($10 moving to $35) and unaltered dog fees ($45 moving to $65), if the problem is with unaltered dogs. If we assume it costs $100 to alter your dog, an owner will recover the difference in a little over two years with the current fee schedule. With the proposed fee changes, it will take an owner a little over three years. Here's an idea that I'll get back to.........why not leave the altered fee at $10, but increase the unaltered fee to $80? You'll give people a financial incentive to spay or neuter their animals and they could recover the cost of the surgery in a little over a year.

If cats account for 60% of the service calls and 66% of the euthanasias, are we making any adjustments to the cat license fees? Hmmmm, give me second.............No! So let's look at the payback period for altering your cat. An altered cat license is $5 and unaltered is $10, so if we assume a $100 operation, you wouldn't recover your costs for 20 years!!!!! Can't really blame people for not altering their cats when you look at THAT math.

This one was a shocker.....Pomona has 9000 unaltered licensed dogs but only 5000 altered licensed dogs. Wow! No data on cat licenses.....who wants to make an informed decision anyway.

The city is proposing the increase to generate an additional $305,000. The increase of $25 for an altered dog will generate $125,000. The increase of $20 for an unaltered dog will generate $180,000. Assuming we don't increase the fees for altered dogs, how much will we need to increase the fee on unaltered dogs to generate the $305,000? $34!! By raising the unaltered fee to $80 and keeping the altered fee at $10, the city could generate just as much money. If this leads to more dogs being spayed or neutered then the number of service calls should decrease (saving the city more money).

A couple of closing thoughts:
Why should it cost 3x more money to buy a license for a Pomona dog than Claremont dog?
How many pets are being dumped in Pomona after owners realize they'll be charged for dropping them at the IVHS?
How much would it cost to contract with La County Animal Control? Why aren't those numbers presented?
Why isn't the city staff giving us the animal control data for years other than 2008?
How much does the IVHS pay the city for rent? Yes, the Humane Society is sitting on city-owned land! Do they have a long-term lease?

Would we really need mandatory spaying and neutering if we incentivized the process by charging substantially more for unaltered animals?

Friday, September 18, 2009

tell 'em meg sent you

I meant to post this ages ago, but there's still time: Come on down to the dA saturday night 7-10 for Pomona Heritage's Speakeasy Party!

Tickets are a mere $5 at the door, with donations taken inside for bathtub gin (and other forms of hooch). And you can buy tickets for the Annual Home Tour while you're there!

The publicity says to dress in your best Roarin' Twenties outfit, but one of the organizers assures me that costumes are purely optional. Clothing, however, is not optional -- be sure to wear some, of any decade.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just another council Monday

Live tweeting, if I feel up to it, at

Special session: evaluation and possible appointment of a police chief

Regular agenda:

The meeting starts after closed session is completed, but no earlier than 7 p.m.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

PUSD looking for a new head

PUSD has scheduled several community meetings to discuss the search for a new superintendent. I don't know the exact format, but it's probably a Q&A with the School Board. If you're interested:

Wednesday, Sept. 16, Palomares Middle School gym, at 4:30 pm (PUSD staff) and 6:30 pm (public); Thursday, Sept. 17, Fremont Middle School gym, at 4:30 pm (PUSD staff) and 6:30 pm (public); and Monday, Sept. 21, Lorbeer Middle School gym, at 4:30 pm (PUSD staff) and 6:30 pm (public). An online survey is also available on our district website:

Also, congrats should go to students, faculty and staff of Montvue Elementary (on San Bernardino, near Indian Hill) which boosted their API score by 60 points this year.

Please support the Pomona schools.

Monday, September 14, 2009

all-hands meeting?

I'm picking up from a comment that calwatch left under the "thufferin' thuccotash!" post below (see Recent Comments sidebar to read his comment).

We are located just about equidistant between the two shootings, and we've got a very active and engaged NW captain. She emails us about any incident she hears about over the grapevine, as well as general NW news.

I haven't heard about any NW meetings since the, um, exciting one on July 27. At the beginning of August, I think that Muffin Turk, who is on the Community Life Commission (I believe -- I could be wrong), was agitating for a LP community meeting, but I don't think anything ever came of it.

So, I'll add my voice to Muffin's and calwatch's: CAN WE HAVE A COMMUNITY MEETING PRETTY PLEASE?

[That said, I am not concerned about getting shot in my front yard. And not just because I've been shot at twice and both times they missed.]

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's for dinner?

Three weeks ago a shiny new store front popped up on Holt near Reservoir: Tweedy Panda Donuts & Chinese Food. 969 E. Hold Ave. (909) 802-2088. Open from 5AM - 10 PM.

Stew ate there a week or so ago and had good things to say, so I tried it out this evening. Thumbs up!

This is your basic "select a starch and pick two dishes from the steam table" sort of place. The selection is okay, though the only veggies I could find were embedded -- like journalists? -- with beef. Oh well. I opted for white rice with orange chicken and beef and broccoli, heavy on the green stuff. The portions were huge -- I'll be grazing on this order for a couple days.

How much did this bounty cost, you ask? $4.69. And, it came with a free 12 ounce soda. I added on a donut for dessert. Spot hitting. I'm looking at the menu now. Here are a couple highlights:

$2.79 for a bowl of rice covered with one item from the steam table. A small order of chow mein for $1.25 ($3.75 for a large). None of the small orders cost more than $1.85; all the larges cost around $5.50. Eggrolls for 50 cents. Granted, there's more to a good eat than cheap prices, but I'm living on a tight budget, and admit I'm a sucker for great prices.

As of this second, I'm committing to supporting this business, which I'd very much like to see succeed, by eating there at least once a week from here on out. Care to join me? Silly as this may sound, I really want to celebrate the presence of a welcoming, family-friendly business anywhere on Holt, but especially along this stretch that is largely populated by sketchy characters and sketchy businesses. Here's wishing the paw-waving cat brings appropriate levels of luck and good fortune to this new business.

Friday, September 11, 2009

thufferin' thuccotash!

I heard the cop-choppers all in an uproar last night, but I didn't realize it was because of the H word again. I swear, the LP is the most dangerous part of Pomona -- y'all Southies just better watch out when you see us comin'! (I'm looking at you, Anduhrew.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Pride In Pomona!

I've been seeing the beautiful hexagonal Pomona logo all over -- it's on our street signs, on the tiles that pave the Civic Center area, and now on t-shirts and cars! I was excited about showing my Pomona pride, but had some trouble tracking down a source for the logo.

After drinking enough beers at dba256, I finally got a lead -- Juan of BUNNY GUNNER is able to make copies on vinyl in a variety of sizes. I selected the four-incher, which seems to fit nicely on my poor high-tech beater. I'm still not sure if the logo will result in obsequious groveling at the finer LA parking lots, or a little more room on the freeway, but I'll let y'all know how it works out.

If you'd like to make your own experiment, I have an extra to give away for FREE. Send me a picture of the vehicle (or other object) that you'd like to put it on, and I'll happily give a copy to the most interesting submission received by next Wednesday.

OTOH, it's probably easier to head on down to BUNNY GUNNER and hand over a few bucks, but there it is. There's something wonderful about free.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's Opera, Fox?

Just returned from the first performance of grand opera at the Pomona Fox Theater. OK, I admit that I went because I want to be supportive of this type of use of the Fox (no I wasn't at the Marilyn Manson concert). But I was pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed the afternoon immensely.
I'm afraid that I'm musically challenged and don't know a contralto from a contra bassoon. As a result I wouldn't even begin to attempt a review of the performance, but I can comment on the experience. 
First off, we sat in the front part of the balcony (the mezzanine?) with the extra wide leather seats. The $30 price was general admission anywhere in the balcony and we were there early enough to get into those great seats. I've been to a lot of venues and have never had seats that comfortable, even for movies! Yes, I was able to sit on my ample back side without twinging during the entire 2.5 hours. I'm also a little hard of hearing (what?) and am pleased to say that the acoustics at the Fox were surprisingly good without a lot of extra amplification.

The music was provided entirely by piano and musical director Brian Farrell. The staging was very minimalist with just a few boxes and steps providing the scene and then a lot of hand props and costumes adding the flavor to the action.

While the singing was mostly in Italian (with a few wink-winks of English to help with key plot elements) there was also some English narration provided by Robert Arce and Rochelle Firestone which helped if you got lost. The main way to follow the action was to read the two page synopsis of the storyline BEFORE the start of the performance. 

The story follows Nemorino, Matt Dunn, who is in love with Adina, Leslie Dennis, but is too shy to approach her due to her beauty. Along comes Belcore, Raul Matas, who is a soldier who enchants Adina. Nemorino  is crushed and seeks the help of snake-oil salesman Ducamara, Arthur Freeman, who sells him some bordeaux rebranded as love potion. Of course that's when things get interesting. The comic parts, especially  with Ducamara or Belcore, were quite enjoyable and you didn't need to understand the language to enjoy it.

Of course everything comes out well in the end.

I learned that the presales for this performance were about 300 (we bought out tickets at the door). Hopefully that will be enough to encourage the Repertory Opera Company to use the Fox in the future. During intermission we saw councilman Tim Saunders and is wife Dawn, as well as DPOA director Larry Egan. They had VIP seating in the orchestra area of the auditorium which was set up with tables and plastic chairs. Upon arriving at home, we had our Pomona Heritage mail (our membership director collects it once a week so we don't see it in a timely manner) and we had received an invitation to attend as VIP guests. Considering everything we're glad we paid and got to sit in the comfortable seats. We're also glad we were able to help support opera at the FOX!

welcome to the apocalypse, have a nice day

Is it just me, or does this fire map on the LA Times website suggest that to add to the rest of our problems, Mt. Wilson is erupting?

Maybe that late-night viewing of Volcano (Tommy Lee Jones! Don Cheadle!) wasn't such a good idea after all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Grammatical Rant

It's been kind of quite here in the blogosphere lately, so I take this opportunity to vent on a subject that bugs the heck out of me.

I was reading the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin this morning and one of my MAJOR issues was there staring me in the face. Was it corruption in Pomona? No. Was it the dismantling of our history? No.

I was faced with this sentence in an article on page A3 by Canan Tasci on parking problems at Chaffey College: ". . . and that increases the amount of people trying to park on campus." Because the offending phrase was used in a direct quote I can't blame Canan Tasci, but it's usually OK for a reporter to clean up any obvious grammar problems. I'm sure that there was probably a "you know" or "like" in there that didn't make it into the quote (just speculation). The problem is that I've seen this type of thing in a LOT of stories in the newspaper (from some good writers) and heard in constantly in TV and radio news reporting. I guess copy editing is one of the victims of the changes in the news industry.

The grammar rule is that if you use a number word (few, fewer, more, less, number, amount, etc.) that a singular noun has to be an amount. You cannot have a number gasoline, but you can have an amount of gasoline so it would be "less gasoline," not fewer gasoline. When a noun is a plural, such a cows, you have a "number of cows," not an amount of cows. Amount refers to "volume" while number refers to (hold on) number. The same is true for less and fewer. Less refers to volume and is used on singular nouns (less gasoline, less cereal, less stress) and fewer refers to plural numbers (fewer cars on the road, fewer accidents on the highways, fewer pills I have to take for the stress).

One of the places where this first reared its ugly head was in grocery checkout lines. The sign above one or two of the lines began reading "10 items or less." The noun items is clearly plural, so it should have been "10 items or fewer" which just didn't sound right. Actually a better sign would have read "fewer than 11 items," but we don't want to go there. This has caused the whole, plural vs. singular noun numbers words thing completely out of whack. We now hear that there were "less people than last year," "less cars on freeway on Fridays," etc.

AT LEAST: Our own local Stater Brothers market does have a sign above the two registers at the south end of the store that state, "15 items or fewer."

This post is a repeat of one on my own personal blog. My personal blog does not carry Pomona Specific entries (that I'll continue to do here as long as Meg allows me to), but my take on issues of importance beyond Pomona. If you're so inclined, you can view by blog HERE

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

let's be careful out there

Across the Neighborhood Watch list comes this warning. I'm sure the NW blog itself will post this soon, but it's better to have read it twice than not at all.

One evening, late last week, a man came to my door about 8:30 pm wearing a shirt with the ADT Security logo. I am a subscriber to ADT for my alarm system and I have a yard sign indicating such. He claimed he was checking on the equipment and wanted to know if if was working. I had my dogs in the house with me and did not open the screen door to him. I told him my alarm was working just fine and he left. I called ADT and they confirmed that they never send out representatives unless a customer has made a service request. They have also had other reports of this activity in our area. ADT's advice was:

Ask anyone claiming to be from ADT for identification and tell them you are going to call ADT to verify their identity. This will cause any imposters to leave. Then call PPD to report the imposter. ADT does not know what these guys are up to, but it's not anything good.

Stay on your toes, folks! Somewhere nearby there's a no-goodnik eager to help him/herself to your prized possessions. (But, I hasten to add, don't be too suspicious of your fellow human beings. Most folks are honest, even those who are really down on their luck.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ooooohhhh Beeerrrr

Anyone interested in a beer tasting is welcome to join Pomona Heritage at dba256 (corner of 3rd & Main in downtown Pomona) on Wednesday from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Beer meister Tibbi will be pouring and discussing four different brews for the information and edification of those who are interested in historic preservation/neighborhoods, but may not know a lot about beer (or may know about beer but want to know more).

Not only can you get a beer education, you can mingle with people who love old homes and historic landmarks. What could be a better way to spend a Wednesday summer evening? And you won't even have to worry about running into the crowds from the Marilyn Manson or Cake concerts at the Fox as we're squeezed right between the two.

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Best Pizza Joint to Open Second Location

Stew and I meandered over to Mountain Ave this evening for a slice of pizza from the always wonderful San Biagio's Pizza restaurant. Come to find out, the Biagio's are opening a second location at 1118 E. 19th Street, Suite F in Upland.

A grand opening celebration is slated for Sunday, August 30th. Stop by between noon and 2 PM for two free slices and a free soda.

If you haven't yet tried San Biago's, here's your chance. Prepare for an addiction.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

queer, here, and used to it

K. and I moseyed down to the LGBT Center ribbon-cutting yesterday evening, and we had a great time. I was really proud to see both Freddie Rodriguez (the relevant councilperson) and Mayor Rothman on hand, as well as the actor Wilson Cruz, as Mark mentioned in the comments of the last post. I did not see Mark himself, although we left pretty early, as we had another engagement.

The turnout was really good -- there were at least 50 people there -- as was the spread of comestibles and the bar (subsidized but not free). I had a glass of rosé, K. had a Newcastle, and we had a chance to look around the Brick, which we'd never been to (being too old to dance, or at least too fuddy-duddy). It's a pretty cool space -- which I should have known, since all the bars in BDP (Beautiful Downtown Pomona) are kickin'. We made some new friends and generally hobnobbed with the queer and queer-friendly.

Then we were herded outside for the ribbon opening, featured in the picture below. First Councilman Rodriguez cut the ribbon, and then there were four more ribbons for other luminaries to bisect. As the fellow standing next to me (not K.) said, This LA -- bring on the simulacra.

I thought the best line of the evening went to Hizzoner, who said something about "The City of Pomona, the County of Los Angeles, the State of Shock." I take that to be a reference to the wretched state of our state (don't get me started), although K. worried that "shock" referred to a downtown LGBT center.

I picked up a flyer with the Center's mission statement (although I can't find it now... must. clean. house.), and there were also flyers with volunteer and donation opportunities. If you're interested in either, you can email
, and I'll post more info here as I have it.

In the meantime, hurrah for Leah Horowitz and all her helpers for organizing the Center, hurrah for Susan and the Brick for hosting the Center, hurrah for Rothman and Rodriguez for showing their support, and hurrah for Pomona for showing Southern California how diversity works.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

goings on about town

The Daily Bulletin is full of surprises (and not just Dave Allen's columns). A couple of days ago, I had my consciousness raised: The Brick is a gay bar. I had no idea; being a middle-aged frump who is in bed by 11 and whose best attempt to look hip is a black t-shirt with her mom jeans, I'm clueless when it comes to Pomona nightlife.

It delights me that we have the coolest gay bar in the West Inland Empire. But that's not the only way our fair city represents sexual diversity: We're getting an LGBT Center, and the grand opening is on Saturday. Hats off to the Western University student who is the driving force behind it, and to all the folks (including the Brick) who helped. Once again, Pomona shows the world what diversity looks like.

The open house is this coming Saturday from 5 to 7pm, and I'm planning on stopping by. I'd like to see what services they'll be offering, meet the organizers, and generally welcome the Center to the neighborhood. It's at 340 S. Thomas St. (next to the Brick?). Perhaps I'll see you there?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

$1 Per Car at Mission Tiki Drive In

Wanna know where I'll be tomorrow night [Sunday, August 9]? Why, I'll be at the Mission Tiki Drive In enjoying Bonnie & Clyde and a free medium popcorn with the purchase of a medium soda. All this for the insanely low price of $1 per car. Seriously. Show starts at 8:30 PM.

Can't make it this week? Plan ahead for...

August 16 Lolita
August 23 Viva Las Vegas
August 30 To Catch a Thief

I heart Mission Tiki.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

and no word from our advertisers

Just to let everyone know, I've added word verification to the comment posting in order to avoid the Chinese-language spam we've been getting. I'm tired of deleting them manually (4-5 a day), and I hope the additional step will take care of it. I can't block IP addresses or even countries of origin, so if this doesn't work and the spam increases, worse steps might have to be taken. That said, I remain committed to as much openness as possible. And I'll go to the mat for the option of anonymity.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Did I just twitter the entire City Council meeting?

I just did. (It is a little obvious when you are the only person typing in the room.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Council Meeting Monday--OUTSOURCING!

Monday will see another city council meeting with a variety of interesting subjects that the city will be taking up prior to its traditional August break.

Items of interest on the Agenda include:
  • On the consent agenda are the acceptance of funding for the Library's Big Read program, acceptance of the DPOA's contract for police patrosl for downtown, acceptance of homeland security funding for the city, and selection of Vice Mayor (it's Freddie Rodriguez's turn). as well as various contracts for alley improvements, the appropriation of CIP funds for Monroe Avenue street closure, and other items.
  • The last item on the consent agenda is a resolution by the city to put a measure on the Nov. 3 election ballot for an update to the Telephone Utility User's Tax (TUUT). This one is interesting as it will add VOIP, Wireless (cellular) phone service, and other new technologies to the tax base. I had not even considered that with my home phone being part of my cable television service that it doesn't actually fall under the traditional category of telephone service. How do they separate the bandwidth used for my High-Def TV from the bandwidth I use for phone calls? Very interesting.
  • There is a public hearing on a Pomona Congetstion Management Program.
  • Public hearing on the denial by the Planning Commission of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the 7-11 store at Towne and the 10 freeway to sell beer and wine.
  • A public hearing on an HPC decision to deny the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) for a home on McKinley in Hacienda Park that wished to retain 9 vinyl windows and install four vinyl windows and to retain in addition to a lot of other "improvements" to the property.
  • Public Hearing regarding a modification, suspension, and/or revocation of CUP for Angelo's Pizza who has been in violation of their original CUP.
  • Public hearing for approval and acceptance of the Police Department's user and cost recovery service fee adjustments study, which also includes some amendments to a couple of city codes.

Also on the agenda, under New Business, are three items regarding outsourcing of city services. The services that are proposed for outsourcing are:
  • Park Maintenance and Landscaping Services, which includes maintenance of city highway medians
  • Street Sweeping Services
  • Building and Safety Services
I've had a brief chance to review some of the documentation including bids and comparisons as well as projected cost savings. To be brually honest, I'm not sure that I trust the conclusions, but on the surface, it looks like we'd get varied savings.

Here's where I have a problem with this: If I, as a homeowner, choose to outsource something, say lawn mowing and basic gardening, it's usually done when I'm in fiscally good shape, when I can afford the luxury of not having to do it myself. The same is true of plumbing, window washing, car washing, etc. I would never consider outsourcing such jobs if money were tight, if I had lost income, etc. So, I have a hard time getting my head around how this is different for a city.

OK, so city's can lay off people and cut back on things and maybe the outsource has tools and capabilities that would be costly to the city (the homeowner might not own a lawn mower), but in the long-run is it really a savings?

In discussing this with people, one of the main issues that is brought up as the reason that the city can "save" so much money is that the city has to pay so much more for labor than the "union controlled" city workers demand. This appears to be the main argument for such actions.

If this is indeed the case, what we're saying is that we are trying to hire cheaper labor (denying our citizens a living wage?) and, especially non-union labor. So is this, in essence, an attempt by the city to "bust" the unions? If, the outsource vendors were paying the same wages as city union-member workers, would the costs still be cheaper? Would we actually save anything or would we then be better off using "in-house" labor?

I'll be interested to see how the councilmembers who claim to be "friends of organized labor" and who have accepted campaign money from the unions come down on this.

If, we truly just don't have the funds to run our city, then we're all in trouble. If we, the citizens, aren't willing to pay for the costs of our infrastructure, then we've got to figure out just what we can live without. I don't believe that outsourcing will, in the long-run be beneficial. I still can't see how we can pay for a service that we were providing ourselves cheaper than sending it to a company who has the obligation to make as much money as possible to provide profit for their shareholders/owners. A city is a public benefit organization, a vendor is a for-profit company.

A side issue which has no bearing on costs, except moral cost, is that every vendor (and most of these are companies based outside the city of Pomona) because a "special interest" who will wish to ensure their future profits and attempt to influence Pomona. In the last election it was the LA County Firefighters (a group with lots of resources whereas the Pomona Police Association is only within the Pomona PD and has limited resource) that appeared to have spent the most money and had the most influence in influencing the Pomona voters. Is it really in the best interest of Pomona residents to have businesses that profit from our taxes influencing our elections. Perhaps you feel that they do, as for me I'm always concerned about such things.

You can read the agenda and all supporting documents on the City Clerk's public documents web site at: