Friday, July 30, 2010

Ethics and Pensions

With the scandals that rocked the city of Bell, it's been suggested that we need to look in our own back yard. Anonymous asked if someone wouldn't bring forth the evidence of wrongdoing in our city. I'm not personally privy to anything that would rise to that level where a prosecutor would be interested, but I'm very aware of some things going on that are of very questionable ethics.

The most recent case-in-point was the "gaming" of the system by Councilmember Cristina Carrizosa to significantly increase her retirement once she leaves the city council. While it appears that she did nothing illegal, the ethics of this situation is certainly in question.

But even more importantly to me, is that the problems in Bell have been linked to citizens' not being aware of what was going wrong with their city. Here in Pomona, we have several blogs and some decent reporting that has stanched many of the grevious problems. A few years ago a few members of the city council decided that they should also get paid (separately) for being the redevelopment agency. Citizens found out about it and rose up and stopped it. I'm currently on the city's Charter Review Commission and we are looking at the possibility of creating an ethics oversight commission within the city and strengthening the ethics for the council, commissions, city management, police, candidates for office, and others under the perview of the charter, all to enhance citizen oversight to avoid the problems that Bell ran into.

However, I have an even more basic question. SHOULD PART-TIME COUNCILMEMBERS BE GETTING A PENSION AT ALL? Those in the private sector who work part-time usually don't get any benefits. This is the way that banks, grocery stores, and WalMart have been keeping their costs down for years. By hiring people and limiting their work hours to under 30 per week, they don't pay retirement, medical, and other benefits. Why are we so generous to our city council members?

Public service is not supposed to enrich those who are serving. To suggest that council members are doing such an extraordinary job as part-time employees negates the work of all of the others who work part time at little or no personal benefit (do you hear me unpaid commissioners?). Councilwoman Carrizosa stated that she "earned" the additional pension money. So that means that she worked harder than councilmembers Lantz, Atcheley, Saunders, Rodriquez, Soto, and Mayor Rothman? I undestand that their pension will be based on a $9600/year salary (the mayor twice that) and not what they got from their full-time jobs.

Again, this is not about what is legal, but about what is ETHICAL and FAIR.

I look forward to the comments on this item.


Remember, August 2nd the council will decide whether or not to put replacing Pomona's Police Department on the ballot. I will be out of town and can't attend. I'm fairly sure that the council knows where I stand on this issues as I've spoken on it in the past. If you haven't spoken out, do so!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

American Graffiti at the Fox

American Graffiti
Sunday, July 25
Doors open at 5:00 pm
Screening begins at 6:00 pm

A Friends of the Pomona Fox Family Screening of American Graffiti
Awoooohhhh, the Wolfman is calling you to get in your hot rod and cruise on over to the Pomona Fox Theater for the classic film, American Graffiti. Join Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfus, Harrison Ford, Susanne Summers, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Philips, Paul LeMat, and Charles Martin Smith as they spend their first night of freedom after high school crusin' the streets and hangin' out at Mel's Drive-In. So "Where Were You in '62?"
Susanne Summers--American GrafittiAppearing just outside the theater will be the actual 1956 Ford Thunderbird driven by Susanne Summer in the film. "The '56 Thunderbird convertible was purchased by Clay Daily and his wife in 1964 on a used Ford car lot in San Bernardino, CA. It had been painted red and had 55,000 miles showing. A few years later the Dailys moved to Petaluma, CA. This where they had the car painted white. In 1972, Clay's wife had the car parked in downtown Petaluma. When she returned to the car to go home, she found a piece of a brown paper bag on the windshield. Someone had written a note on the paper and asked if the car's owner would like to have the car in a movie. They left a telephone number and said to call if interested. The Daily T-Bird American GrafittiDailys thought it was a joke, but they called anyway. To their surprise, it was Lucas Films and they wanted to use the car! The Dailys agreed and the T-Bird appeared in the movie. All of the night shots were done in downtown Petaluma, so Clay and his wife were able to watch some of them."
The Daily's, now living in the Diamond Bar area, have graciously agreed to display the classic car at our July 24 screening after showing it at the Petaluma salute to American Grafitti in May and prior to it's going to Reno, NV for the Hot August Nights Festival. In addition, there will be a number of cars from the era on display outside the theater as well. Join us for Cars, Music, and a classic American film.
Popcorn, sodas, and candy will be available from the snack bar. Hot food and "adult" beverages will be available from Drink, the adjacent restaurant before, during, and after the screening. There will also be a door prizes and other surprises
Prices: Adults $3.00
Children 12 and under $2.00

Monday, July 19, 2010

let the sun shine in

Well, I'm back from my jaunt to southern Indiana and East Tennessee. Thanks to my fabulous co-authors for keeping the blog going in my absence!

Thanks also to AnonyMark for alerting me to Dave Allen's article on Cristina Carrizosa's pension and the discussion that resulted from it. I must say, D-Bomb does some stellar investigative journalism when the mood strikes him -- and that's more than I can say for most of the other newspapers I read.

Fair warning, though: A few of the comments in the discussion are pretty anti-Mexican. (I would say "racist," but Mexican isn't a race. Still, I suspect those commenters feel similarly about anyone brown.)

I'm posting the links because I don't know if everyone has seen the article, and frankly, one of our problems seems to be dissemination and discussion of information. We here at M-M-M-My Pomona make no claims to journalistic integrity (or writing quality, for that matter), but we can at least help out with the goal of opening up discussion. Open discussion leads to open government leads to healthy cities.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

All Pomona middle schools on state emergency transfer list

Parents of Pomona middle schoolers, you can pull them out ASAP, under a new state regulation adopted by the State Board of Education yesterday in compliance with the state "Race To The Top" federal grant. In fact, every single traditional middle school in the City of Pomona was on the "open enrollment" list. From Palomares to the north, Emerson to the east, Marshall to the west, and Simons and Fremont to the south, every single one was an "open enrollment" school. Previously, the list was titled "low achievement" schools, but that was changed due to a quirk with the state law, which classified some well-performing schools as poor even though they were above the state average.

However, no one would identify the middle schools in the City of Pomona as well performing. All of them are in the lower two deciles, although some are above average when demographics of the student and parent population are considered. Nevertheless, it is interesting that Pomona schools actually do well at the elementary school level - with even the ones in the "bad" areas doing well above average when demographic considerations are included - the high schools, despite the bad reputation, are also performing above average when demographics are considered, with respectable high school exit exam pass rates - while the middle schools are doing a poor enough job to get put on the state list.

The emergency regulation calls for school districts to notify all parents with students in the schools on the "open enrollment list" by the first day of school that they can transfer their kids out. Unfortunately, the only performing middle school in the Pomona Unified School District is Lorbeer Middle School, in Diamond Bar. There are also the K-8 schools that former Superintendent Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana created, but most of them are geared for students to continue forward from the elementary school level. However, the Open Enrollment Act also allows parents to transfer to schools outside of the district, and many of them, such as Bonita, Walnut Valley, and Claremont, have been interested in interdistrict transfers due to declining child populations in those cities. The regulation states that once a student is enrolled outside of their home school, that they will not have to reapply.

Although districts are permitted to set their own due dates for applications, the districts that parents are transferring their kids to will need to respond back to the home district by September 30, 2010, with all transfers concluding by November 1, 2010. Subsequently, notification will be made at the start of the calendar year, with transfers effective the fall of that year. Districts are not require to permit transfers out of the district if it would upset the "racial and ethnic balance" of the district. In the past, as I personally experienced, Pomona Unified has used that to prohibit non-Hispanics from transferring out of Pomona city schools. However, some legal reviewers have cautioned against using that as a rationale, for it violates Proposition 209. Each district will have to come up with a procedure within the next month as to how they wish to arrange for transfers, and the ability for districts to reject students transferring in is limited.

To have all Pomona middle schools on a list that many will interpret as "failing" could be devastating to the district as it attempts to have voters pass a $96 parcel tax increase on all property. I am sure that the ballot argument opposing the tax will be made that highlights this uncomfortable fact. Or advocates of the tax increase could argue that the fact that since all Pomona middle schools were put on the state emergency list, it is evidence that we should put money into Pomona schools to improve. With the utility tax and school parcel tax increase, possible Sheriff's contracting, and other hot topics, there are real choices for our community.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Calfironia Bank and Trust closing down in downtown p-town

I just read this article last night (about the California Bank and Trust closing the Pomona branch) and got to thinking. There are three banks in the downtown area that have huge parking lots. Now it's no secret that I'm no friend of parking lots. I consider them to be something that discourages walking and heavily encourages driving. I never enjoy walking across the BofA parking lot to get to downtown and even less enjoy walking past the Chase parking lot to get to Antique Row. Now I can understand that the Chase building has other offices in it but, with the closure of the CBofT Pomona has an opportunity to increase foot traffic to larger areas of Downtown Pomona.

I know this is a long ways off, since we still need to find something to do with the Pomona Pond/Pit. But, I never like to miss an opportunity when I see one. I know we have some council members that are big fans of cars and parking lots. But, what are the the residence's thoughts? We've got a great plan infrastructure that can easily be converted to pedestrian and mass transit oriented movement. Not to mention some of our poorer residents walk, ride bikes, and take the bus anyways. But is this something we'd all want?

Friday, July 2, 2010

claremont, city of trees and felonies

This article is just too, too sweet. All of Claremont's efforts to be a classy joint are for naught -- turns out a prominent citizen was smuggling arms to Somalia. I would say, "You're slayin' me here!" except that I wouldn't wish to be taken literally.

The question remains: What international crimes do you think Pomona's seemingly-upstanding citizens might be hiding? I've done a fair bit of smuggling myself -- cheese from England, sausage from Germany (minds out of the gutter, people!), drugs in Asia back in my wild youth. Perhaps our John sold nuclear-weapon plans to Ptomania in his own wild youth? Or Chainsaw Ed, not Ramón Mercader, was the man behind the icepick that killed Leon Trotsky?

Come on, we can't let Claremont get one over on us this way! We have a reputation to protect! Let's go do some crimes!

Bonus points for anyone recognizing the movie quotation. And I'll have a post soon about the Sheriffs Dept. proposal, which Calwatch posted to Twitter, but I need to read through the damn thing first.