Friday, January 30, 2009

State of the Schools

A little message from Pomona Unified:

Dear Friends of PUSD,
As you know, California is in a severe financial crisis. What you may not know, is that K-12 education is being asked to bear more than its fair share in helping the state resolve the crisis. Our state is facing a $42 billion deficit over the coming 18 months (the rest of this budget year and the 2009-10 budget year).
So far, every proposal put forth by legislators and the Governor cuts K-12 education by at least 50% of the entire deficit, although K-12 funding represents just 40% of the state budget. Public education is being made to bear far more than its fair share of state budget cuts.
We know budget cuts are coming, but children and their schools should not be made to bear more than their fair share of the burden.
Please see the e-mail links at the end of this newsletter to the Legislature and the Governor, and help us explain this concern to them.
Meanwhile, we remain focused on Reaching, Teaching, and Learning, and wonderful things are still happening every day at PUSD, as you'll see in this edition of Friends of PUSD. We're changing and we're improving, and we couldn't do it without your support as a Friend of PUSD.
Thank you so much for your active participation in the education of our children.

Dr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana

Also in the email:
Lakers honor Kellogg Polytechnic Elementary teacher at halftime!
Diamond Ranch musicians "Rose" to the occasion.
Lunch Club mentors provide guidance for Pueblo students.
Village Academy video asks "Is Anybody Listening"
From Barfield to Kenya and back
Big Boy brings big gift to Marshall Middle School
Ganesha High rejoins National Honor Society
LACMA parks it at Alcott Elementary
PUSD administrators take pay cut to help district prepare for state budget cuts

If you haven't signed up to receive the PUSD emails, it's a click and an email address.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

news of the Ponz-economy

Ms. Lois from the Pomona Public Library -- and can I get a wha-wha for the fact that we have our own library and aren't part of the execrable LA County Library system? -- wrote to ask me to commend to your attention an article in the Daily Bulletin. It's about an AP English class at Village Academy High making a DVD about how the economy has affected them personally -- all spinning out of a reading assignment on The Great Gatsby.

I find the DB website really annoying (non-accessability-compliant, pop-ups, you name it), so I'm not going to link to it. That'll show 'em, huh? But I will link to the students' DVD, which they thoughtfully posted on YouTube.

Speaking of the Daily Bulletin, Joe Blackstock, the paper's History Guy (kinda like the Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons but taller and smarter), was the guest speaker at Pomona Heritage's feast on sunday night.

Joe opened his speech with a deep bow to Dave Allen, saying that he was going to riff on the Pomona A-Z columns with a "Top Ten Pomona Personalities of Yore" kind of thing.

I think my favorites were numbers 2 and 5. Two was Reverend F.T. Scott, who fought in the Battle of First Street. What, you didn't learn about the Battle of First Street in school? According to the SB Sun's timeline of the Inland Empire,
Battle of First Street. Pomona resident mobilized to take on Southern Pacific Railroad workers in downtown. SP wanted to build another track along First Street but Pomona officials said no. About 1,000 Pomonans battled with the SP workers and drove them away. Pomona later won the dispute in court.

Number 5 was Clarence Uno (I think I got that right -- I was taking notes on my cellphone, like a big dork. Oh, wait, I am a big dork), who was a World War I vet and president of the El Monte American Legion... and who was nonetheless interned with all the other Japanese-Americans at the Fairplex in 1942. I guess he just hadn't demonstrated his patriotism enough.

In seeing whether I could find out more about American hero Uno, I discovered that in fact a number of WWI vets were interned at Fairplex. You can read about them in this article (which, I have to warn you, puts a happy smiley face on the whole experience), including more about Mr. Uno's death at the more permanent concentration camp in Wyoming, where he was buried in his U.S. Army uniform.

Thanks, Clarence, and thanks, Joe. (And thanks to everyone who worked to make the feast a success.)

The frontispiece is of Clarence Uno's funeral, from Life magazine in 1943. You can see a photo of Mr. Uno upright (and alive) too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Having ingested more than the usual amount of wine at a neighbor's house last night, K. and I were feeling like a greasy egg-and-potato breakfast this morning, so we toddled down to Angel's Place in LaVerne. We had dinner there a while back, and I've had lunch there a couple of times, but we'd never done breakfast there.

As it turns out, I'm thinking that breakfast may be Angel's finest meal. I had a spinach omelette, which was very tasty, and K. reported the same of his gyro omelette. And the potatoes -- the most important feature of any plate where K. is concerned -- were good too. They weren't your standard diner hash browns; rather, large chunks of cooked potato were smashed together and left on the grill until they were crusty and delectable.

I will say this, though: Worst. Coffee. Ever.

Has anyone tried breakfast at Roberta's Village Inn across the street from it? I feel like we need to try it too, in the spirit of culinary adventure, but it doesn't look all that prepossessing.

Ha, fooled you -- no lunch after that big omelette for breakfast. I will, however, be making myself a proper cup of coffee.

We'll be at the Pomona Heritage election and dinner tonight, in order to sandbag, um, I mean, vote for our Ed for the board. Where will *you* be dining?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chief Joe Retirement Dinner

There will be a retirement dinner for Chief Joe Romero on Thursday evening, Feb. 5 at Sheraton Fairplex. The cost of the dinner is $55 per person. The no-host social hour is at 6:00 pm with the dinner at 7:00 pm.

For more information contact Beth Brooks of the Pomona Rotary at (909) 629-3477 email, or via mail at P.O. Box 7787 La Verne, CA 91750. The event is being coordinated by Virginia Madrigal of the Pomona Breakfast Optimists Club.

RSVPs are required, and I understand that the initial response has been great, so hurry if you want to attend.

Regardless of where you come down politically, the chief's 33+ years of dedicated service to our community is something that I'm glad we'll be recognizing. I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Are You Smarter Than A.......

Ooops! I fixed my mistake. Aren't you all glad we don't get paid for these blog posts. The mistake carries a certain irony when you look at the title!

I have a motor vehicle quiz question for you. Recently (today) I had the opportunity to exchange a difference of opinion with a Pomona Police officer as to where a bicyclist should be at an intersection similar to the one pictured. Well, it wasn't exactly an exchange of opinion, since I wisely kept mine to myself, but I clearly heard what his answer to my query would be since he loudly shared it out his open car window, so I'm curious to see whether the enlightened blog readers are 'smarter than a Pomona PD officer'.

In the above diagram, a cyclist represented by an arrow is approaching the intersection and the light is red. Where should the cyclist position himself, if he wants to continue through the intersection in lane #3.
  • (A) Move to lane #1 just because he can.
  • (B) Move to lane #2.
  • (C) Move to the center of lane #3.
  • (D) Stay near the curb of lane #3.
  • (E) Bicycles belong on the sidewalk, so it's a stupid question.
To check your answer, follow this link to the 2009 edition of the DMV handbook and go to page 47-48. In the officer's defense, it didn't appear that he does a lot of riding, but shouldn't a police officer know safe bike riding practices? Given the number of bikes I see traveling the opposite direction to traffic, riding on the sidewalks, running stop signs/lights, and even kids riding without helmets, I'm stunned that this officer would imply that he knows what I should be doing and then be wrong. I'll explain the rationale behind the correct answer, shortly.

As an ardent supporter of Pomona PD, this little rant is more about my realization of the hurdles bike advocates face in making this city more bike-friendly than a mocking of Pomona PD. If the police aren't familiar with the motor vehicle handbook and safe riding practices, how can I honestly encourage other residents to hop on a bike.

Drum roll, please, the answer is (C).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A hypothetical exercise

You are a City Council member and have received the following applications for Planning Commission:

Planning Commission Apps

Who would you select and why?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Not that Pomona needs another blog, but...

Calling all Neighborhood Watch comrades!

In hopes of spurring some cross-neighborhood collaboration and information sharing, I've set up yet another Pomona-focused blog:

I look forward to posting information about the Garfield Park area. If you're involved in a Pomona Neighborhood Watch group -- or have even once whipped out a pair of binoculars to check out shady activity across the way -- and would be willing to post every now and again about the concerns, strategies, and community building efforts of your area, please shoot me an e-mail.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pomona Post Office: Take Action

Thank you to Goddess of Pomona for the excellent rant about the lack of an automatic teller at the Pomona post office. The post -- and the 12 comments it compelled -- prompted me to call the national USPS customer service number to log my concerns about the Pomona branch. I spoke with a truly amazing customer service rep (those who know me know I am rarely satisfied with customer service -- these are well-deserved accolades). She assured me she would send the complaint to the regional office.

Within 20 minutes -- no kidding -- someone from the regional office called to let me know she had initiated a feasibility review.

Today I received a letter in the mail from said regional office. It explains, "Postal headquarters determine which retail site to deploy an APC based on the actual 'candidate' revenue, which is credit/debit transactions already coming into the office that could have been done on the window. Based on a percentage of that revenue, they predict success of an APC and the odds that it would make the minimum amount of revenue per month to justify the purchase and maintenance of the machine. Pomona does not meet the minimum requirements for an APC at this time."

Argh. So we don't qualify -- I'm guessing, in part, because all of us are going to Claremont, LaVerne and other (nicer) post offices for our postal needs; our transactions aren't getting figured into the numerator or the denominator of the ratio. Let's raise a bit of a fuss. Here are some initial ideas for taking action (please post other ideas);

1. If you can muster the strength, wait in the lines at our post office to do the kinds of things one can achieve at the automatic tellers. Buy stamps, weigh packages, etc.

2. Call the regional office to express your concerns. The regional consumer affairs office, which is located in Santa Ana, can be reached at 714-662-6215. Call them, let them know your thoughts (with a smile in your voice, of course).

Pomona deserves better.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kicked in the Teeth--Again!

An article appeared in today's Daily Bulletin under the Ontario NOW section regarding an open house at Assemblywoman Norma Torres' new District Office at 822 N. Euclid (see on map of the 61st District at left). So she couldn't get out of town fast enough. One might argue that the assembly seat is district wide so you need to be in the center of the district. But the way I see it, it's nowhere near the center (unless you count the center as the center of the 10 freeway). So those poor seniors who have to eat dog food must be grouped near Euclid and the 10 freeway so they can easily walk to get help from her staff. That's the only reason I can think of that she eschewed her Pomona base for the higher demographics of Ontario. (Sorry, sarcasm comes so easy.)

Why can't a Pomona assemblyperson have a district office IN Pomona? Nell Soto did the same thing. So much for those of us in the "hinterlands" getting any attention from the assembly office.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rothman fils named to Commission

The rumor has been around for over a week, but I now have confirmation that 21 year-old Jason Rothman, son of Mayor Elliott Rothman has been named as a Planning Commissioner. I haven't been able to acertain who appointed him, but I'm sure that it was either the Mayor or the 5th District.

While I don't know Jason's qualifications, I would hope that he's at least an urban planning major in college. Without such bona fides, it appears to be either nepotism or quid pro quo. Either way it really doesn't pass the "smell test." I can't believe that, if it's the district 5 appointment, that there isn't anyone in Phillips Ranch with better qualifications than the 21-year-old mayor of the city to make planning decisions. And if it's the mayor's appointment, it's the entire city we're looking at.

Again, this is not an attack on Jason Rothman, just a questioning of how things are done in the city.

Jason's first Planning Commission meeting is tonight (Wednesday) in the council chambers at 7:00 pm. I'll be there as they're considering a CUP and variance for an MRI center to go in to the former PAL market/98 Cent store on Orange Grove at Monroe.

I'm sure that Ed will have one of his posts with the map of items on the Planning agenda (put you on the spot Ed).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Graffiti 411

I just returned from a Pomona Police Department SARA meeting for Neighborhood Watch organizers. (SARA, come to find out, stands for Survey, Analyze, Respond, Assess.) Here are some tidbits I picked up and wanted to pass along:

1. Code Enforcement, which is open seven days per week, actually has to spend its time after yard sales taking down signs advertising sales. I think the people of Pomona need to step it up and pick up after themselves; the Code Crew (yup, I came up with that all by myself) have more important things to do, like shake down people who leave their junker cars parked on front lawns. Here's a suggestion: If you post a yard sale sign, take it down after your sale.

2. Comparing 2008 to 2007 crime rates, the police department reports at 13% decrease in homicides, 23% increase (that's right, increase...booo) in rapes, 8% decrease in robberies, 17% decrease in aggravated assaults, 1% decrease (hey, it counts) in residential burglaries, 17% increase in commercial burglaries, 28% decrease (woot! woot!) in vehicle burglaries, 1% increase in auto thefts, and a 5% decrease in larcency/theft. Three cheers for Pomona PD!

3. The PD can generate a "shots heard" map. Let's play a game of higher/lower, like on the Price is Right. How many "shots heard" calls do you think PD received in the month of December? 100? Higher. 1000? Lower. Answer: 923. I assume many of these were for the same incident.

4. The 2008 Santa Cop program donated over 2000 toys to 365 families. Three more cheers for Pomona PD! This is an impressive show of support for the community. If you -- like me -- didn't donate to the cause this past year, let's add it to our "things to do in 2009" list. The photos of grinning kids unwrapping presents are worth at least a modest donation.

5. The Celebrate Pomona City-Wide Beautification Day is happening again. Mark your calendar, then get organized, for Saturday, May 9 from 8AM - 12PM. You can either select your own site or call the organizers for an assignment. To register, or for more information, call 909-624-1281 or e-mail . I participated in this event last year; it was a blast (though my strongest memory is of a couple Cal Poly sorority members saying how "grossed out" they were by Pomona...grrrrrrrr). We can organize around whatever projects we want: alleys, parks, medians, schools, abandoned lots.

6. [SEE UPDATE BELOW] FINALLY, drum roll................Did you know that the graffiti abatement team does not take pictures of graffiti before painting over the offending marks?! I, for one, assumed a call to graffiti abatement resulted in (a) a picture, (b) an abatement, and (c) a sharing of the picture with the appropriate PD unit. Nope. If you'd like PD to know about the graffiti -- which you should, since they're the ones able to investigate and arrest the ne'er-do-wells -- you have to first call the police department. So, let's review: the order of operations is as follows. 1) Spot graffiti. 2) Call Graffiti Coordinator, Leesa Ybarra at the Pomona Police Department. She can be reached at 909-802-7464 or via email at . 3) I'm guessing Leesa contacts abatement post-investigation; if she doesn't, you can. The number is 909-620-2265.

I'm told there's another SARA meeting tomorrow afternoon concerning checkpoints. I don't know when or where, but am told it is in the paper. I really need to order a subscription...another thing for the "to do in 2009" list.

UPDATE JANUARY 29, 2009: The following message just came across the Web Watch listserv.
  • There is only one number to call to have graffiti removed; it is (909) 620-2265. This number should be used 24 hours a day - 7 days a week for removal on private or public property. A removal crew will respond within 72 hours.
  • If you desire a police report contact the Pomona Police Department at (909) 622-1241.
Should you have any questions or concerns that are not answered by the information listed above, you may contact CSO Leesa Ybarra at (909) 802-7464.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Driving back to work from lunch today, I noticed that Arrow Highway was littered with tumbleweeds, like something out of a spaghetti western. Wazzup wi' dat? The Santa Anas aren't supposed to begin until tomorrow -- just in time for this weekend's Cable Air Show. If you see K. there, say hey. Say hey if you see me there too, but you won't.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

death of a salesman

Okay, "death of a salesman" is a bit of an exaggeration. But "death of a sale" is dead on.

Our dishwasher is in the advanced stages of dishwalla lymphoma, with demise imminent. Given that the dishwasher is the only thing that has kept us from murdering each other over the past 20 years, we went shopping this morning for a new one.

A friend recommends Pacific Sales in San Dimas, so we headed on down there, with the intention of making a decision. And we did make a decision -- but not about a dishwasher. The fellow who helped us really put the screws to us, and when we mentioned that we intended to do research on whatever model we decided upon, he launched into a 15-minute tirade against Consumer Reports that a detonating grenade couldn't have interrupted.

Thus it was that we left Pacific Sales with the intention of buying a dishwasher somewhere else. All the advice I've gotten suggests that Lowe's and Home Despot have special sub-par models manufactured for them, plus I'd rather purchase locally in any case.

We'll probably check out Cagle's, over in Ontario, but does anyone have suggestions for other local appliance retailers? Experiences to share? Recommendations, warnings, or dire predictions?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Twelve Months of Homicide

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I give you 12 months of homicides (if your twelfth day is the Epiphany, you can always read this tomorrow).

After a year of nearly daily clicking to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, San Bernardino Sun, Daily Bulletin, Riverside County Coroner, San Bernardino County Coroner, and occasionally the Pasadena Star, Whittier Daily News, and LA Times Homicide Report, I think I've accounted for just about all the reported homicides from San Bernardino to Pasadena. If I missed a few, you have my apologies and in the end, the FBI will ultimately decide what the true number should be anyway.

In our beautiful city of Pomona, the victims ranged in age from 2 to 71. Guns appear to be the primary weapon used, although the two youngest victims (2 and 5), reportedly died from neglect and intentionally drowning, respectively. Based on the initial newspaper report, at least six of the victims may have been killed by a family member or close acquaintance. And as for gender, males accounted for 16 of the 20 victims. I'll save you a trip to the US Department of Justice and let you know that over the last ten years, Pomona as averaged about 21 homicides a year.

Here's the breakdown by months: December (3), November (4), October (2), September (0), August (2), July (2), June (0), May (2), April (0), March (1), February (4), and January (0).

I don't see much of a pattern in the distribution, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts. Interestingly in 2007, Karesh Ave. was the focus of several newspaper articles, but in 2008 the area 'seems' to be safer. Perhaps a reader who is more informed about the efforts in that area of the city could shed some light on possible reasons for the 'apparent' improvement. Another area that appears to have shown improvement is the southern tip of the city. Of course, whether these two areas actually improved or whether we simply didn't see any homicides, I'm completely in the dark. And if the first Pomona homicide of 2009 is at all useful for making predictions, would you be surprised to find out that a woman murdered her husband on Jan. 1st in Phillips Ranch.

If you take a look at the map remember this one caveat, the blue dots west of I5 represent only the September homicides for that area. According to the LA Times Homicide Report (currently on hiatus), the actual number of homicides for LA County as of November was closing in on 600.

Total Homicides for 2008 (scroll to the bottom of the names for the second page).

This journey has vacillated from depressing to informative, so I haven't decided if I'm up for another twelve months, but here's a thanks to Meg for letting me post the 2008 numbers.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Visit Pomona, where things matter

When you work 60-70 hours a week, sometimes (especially on a Saturday afternoon) you just can't stand to be in the office a moment longer -- and yet there's work to be done.

That's when I gather up a satchel of paperwork and throw myself into the Packing House wine bar, where Sal, EV, and Alberto give me a nice glass of red and murmur "Poor baby!" as I camp out at the big table with my laptop, spreadsheets, and general crrrrrap. [Sometimes I go to dba256 too, don't worry -- but they don't open till 3 or 4pm.)

That's what I was doing yesterday when a couple came in and struck up a conversation from the other end of the table. Turns out it was Ellen Taylor, the mayor of Claremont, and her husband. We chatted about various things, including whether or not diamonds are a girl's best friend (agreed: NOT), and eventually we got onto the topic of local politics.

Diamonds were not the only thing we agreed on; the Taylors were pleasant folks, easy to talk to. One point of particular agreement was that Claremont city politics is so bitter because the stakes are so small -- it's all about rearranging the deck chairs at the Ritz-Carleton. Whereas Pomona... well, as Ellen Taylor said, that matters.

She offered as evidence a tart little anecdote. She and George Hunter were discussing their respective Youth Master Plans a few months ago (before the election -- and I was gratified to hear her support GH's ill-fated candidacy), and she said, "We're just trying to keep our kids active."

His reply: "We're just trying to keep our kids alive."

One little consonant (or consonant cluster), and yet such a difference.

Yes, the frontispiece is indeed Henry Kissinger. He is supposedly the origin of the quip that academic politics is so bitter because the stakes are so small.