Monday, February 28, 2011

Council Meeting Tonight

Well, it looks like a very full agenda tonight. Unfortunately, I have a previous commitment which takes me out of town this evening. However, there are a few items of interest that everyone should be aware of:

First off, there is a special meeting at 4:00 pm when the council will get a presentation on the fight by most cities to save their redevelopment agencies. My personal take on this issue is that the city is cutting funding right and left and yet there is still funding, because of redevelopment money, to give money to developers. Right now Pomona is actually at a disadvantage in the RDA situation. Our RDA, because we haven't had any major developments to increase our tax increments, doesn't have the funding that a city like Ontario has. So, right now Ontario can offer developers  a lot more in funding and "concessions." Perhaps, deleting RDAs from every city might re-level the playing field? Note that item 6 on the regular agenda has the city writing off 3/4 of a million dollars owed to the RDA.

One of the things that I'd be all over if I were to attend the meeting is item 12 ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING A `CONTRACTING FOR SERVICES' POLICY. This is how the city has decided it's going to operate, to outsource everything and let private industries take our tax money to provide services. Will we see savings in all cases? I find it hard to believe that "profit motivated" private industry can provide a service, in most cases, for a cost lower than we can ourselves. In the reports section of the meeting documents online, there is a report on our current outsourcing and evaluation. I'd certainly love to know if the citizens agree with some of the report's conclusions. (Click Here for Report) I'll probably write more on this later.

Item 16 is a review of Angelo's Pizza's Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Mr. Aboud has refused to sign a certificate that he will abide by the current CUP. While I feel that Angelo's has in the past year not had the kind of issues that lead up to previous modification of the CUP, he has not lived up to the CUP either. While his current modified CUP (MCUP) only allows beer and wine sales, I've heard that he is selling hard liquor. However, it appears that it may be a little different. According to a police report as part of the council report (Click Here) starting on page 24, undercover officers ordered a whiskey and coke, which they were given. When they went back in uniform and retrieved the bottle of "whiskey" they found that it was actually an orange-based wine drink (12% alcohol). So while they may be following the "letter of the law," they're dishonest with their customers. There were also bottles labeled Gin which were likewise wine beverages. In addition, they are sometimes operating the facility as a nightclub and not serving food which is another violation of the MCUP. How can we continue to allow someone to skirt the laws and treat the city and its citizens with such disrespect?

Finally, it looks like staff is still studying the issue of the proposed business park at Fairplex which would convert 20 of the stables to offices and a self-storage facility. Another eating away of the fairgrounds to commercial development as we've seen with the hotel and convention center. At what point will we actually have a fairgrounds? Are fairgrounds important to the city? What of the historic nature of the stables? A lot of questions to consider.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Continue the calendar?

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the Pomona Events Google calendar, I find myself contemplating whether its continuation is worth the effort.

The original plan was to create a visible, easy-to-use tool for people to find all the rockin' events folks in our city organize. This goal has been partially realized: local bloggers embedded the calendar feed into their blogs, people mention every now and again that they look to the calendar for activity ideas, and some of the many people/organizations who have been invited to post their events do just that. That said, I know a bunch of great events don't make it onto the calendar.

I had put in a good deal of effort up front in hope the calendar would take on a life of its own, with little energy needed on my part to keep it going. Thus far, this hasn't happened, and I've been doing a poor job keeping up with the posts.

The calendar limps along. I'm not satisfied with it in its current state, but I don't have any more time to contribute to it.

Do people find the calendar helpful? If no, is it time to scrap the calendar? If yes, is anyone willing to volunteer one hour per month to help populate the calendar with content? Are there any folks out there organizing events that would be willing to learn how to post their own events (I can show you everything you need to know in 15 minutes)?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Monsters to Invade Pomona

2011 is the 80th Anniversary of the Pomona Fox Theater and what better way to honor that anniversary than with the presentation of the 80th Anniversary screening of both Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931)  on Sunday, Feb. 20. The Fox lobby will be decorated with displays of memorabilia and artwork celebrating the world’s greatest movie monsters. Materials from Famous Monster of Filmland, the classic Monster magazine; Monsterpalooza, the ultimate yearly monster convention; Art of Clay Scupture Studios; and Creature Features, will be displayed.

In addition to the lobby displays, Phantom Coaches Hearse Club will be bringing some vintage hearses which will be on display in front of the theater. PCHC is an organization of owners of car enthusiasts who just happen to enjoy beauty of professional cars - hearses, flower cars, limousines, and ambulances. Their motto is “Putting the ‘fun’ in funeral since 1994.”

Early online ticket sales have come from as far away as Fresno, Arleta, Moorpark, and Torrence. This promises to be a unique experience for the Pomona downtown, as well as for the Pomona Fox Theater.

The doors open at 2:00 pm with the screening of Dracula at 3:00 pm followed by the panel discussion and then the screening of Frankenstein scheduled to begin at 4:45 pm. Moderated by film historian, author, and instructor at the University of La Verne, Scott Essman, the panel will also include confirmed guests:
  • Sara Karloff, daughter of Frankenstein lead Boris Karloff
  • Bela Lugosi, Jr., son of Dracula lead Bela Lugosi
  • Ted Newsom, film historian, producer of Ed Wood—Look Back in Angora, video biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley, and was writer/director of the 26-episode series 100 Years of Horror, with Christopher Lee as host and narrator.
  • Bill Warren, movie/monster historian, contributor to Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, author of Death Is a Lonely Place
  • Craig Reardon, makeup expert/artist, Without a Trace, Wild Wild West, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X Files among others
  • Special Effects master Shane Mahan, Cowboys and Aliens, GI Joe, Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Iron Man, War of the Worlds, Big Fish, Galaxy Quest, and The Lost World; Jurassic Park among others.
  • Actor Dan Robuck., Matlock, Lost, Glee, NCIS, CSI, Bones, Desperate Housewives, The Late Shift playing Jay Leno, Halloween, Agent Cody Banks, Final Destination, The Fugitive and US Marshalls among others.
  • 'Monster Artist' Frank Dietz
All guests are subject to availability.

In addition to the panel, several special guests will be attending the event as well:
  • Don Shay, publisher of Cinefex Magazine in Riverside - magazine about the makeup/special effects/visual effects industry since 1979.
  • Mick Garris, director of many Stephen King TV adaptations, including The Shining and The Stand plus the theatrical feature Sleepwalkers and creator of the TV series Masters of Horror .
  • Tom Woodruff, Jr., co-founder of Amalgamated Dynamics, who have created practical creatures and makeup effects for Alien films of the past 20 years, including Jumangi, Starship Troopers, Santa Clause and many more
Sponsors for the February 20 program include: Downtown Pomona Owners’ Association (DPOA), Creature Features, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Art of Clay Sculpture Studio, Monsterpalooza, Rhino Records in Claremont, Claremont 5-Second Film Festival, Antique Gallery Pomona • Braunstein & Schowalter "Antiques - Estates – Ebay,” UPS Store, Greg’s Refrigeration, Pomona Heritage, and Historical Society of the Pomona Valley.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Ethics, Youth & Family, Elected Officials

The city's Charter Review Commission will have its next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 16. I know that I'd promised to keep everyone up-to-date on the happenings on this important commission, but to date the work has been mostly research and drafting of proposals. This week that all changes as the commission winds down its work and begins the decision process on what should be presented to the voters in 2012 as potential changes to the charter.

To review the process, the Charter Review Commission has 1 year to prepare proposed changes to the city's charter. The charter is akin to the city's constitution and is the basic document that mandates how the city shall be run. Any proposals by the Commission will be placed on the next municipal election (in this case Nov. 2012). The City Council does not have any approval of the work of the Commission. As a courtesy, the Commission will present a draft of the proposed changes to the Council in April for their review and comment, but they are under no more obligation to act on the comments of the Council than they are to act on the comments of any member of the public.

Now on to the items to be discussed on Feb. 16:

Article IV--Elected Officals
The Charter Review Commission has a proposal before it (see the proposal on the city's web site at below for instructions) to make substantive changes to the way that elected officials are chosen in the city. It will be proposed that the Mayor be elected in Odd numbered years instead of in years that already have council races. This would eliminate the perceived inequity that some council people have when deciding to run for the mayor's seat. There is also a proposal to change the way that vacancies are filled so that a councilperson who resigns may not be reappointed to their seat. Finally, a section has been added to better define the duties of a councilperson since no such definition currently exists in the charter.

The Commission decided not to take up the issues of district elections since an initiative has already been submitted which would change that part of the charter. Since the initiative is for a special election, it would come prior to the 2012 election where our Charter changes would come up. We decided to let the voters decide in the special election and then leave it to the next Charter Review Commission in 2020 to determine if additional changes need to be made.

Article III--City Powers
A proposal has been made to add a section to this article which includes language regarding the Pomona Youth and Family Master Plan, codifying it as a part of the city commitment to this important activity.

Article XIV--Ethics
This proposal (which, in the spirit of disclosure is something that I've been intimately involved in working on) would rewrite the current Article XIV--Municipal Campaign Financing and Conflict of Interest, to become a more generalized section on Ethics within city government. While it would include the items currently in the charter, it would add the formation of an Ethics Commission which would be charged with writing an Ethics Code for the city (we don't currently have one) and enforcing compliance to said code. The charter proposal doesn't specify what should be in the Ethics Code, but leaves that up to the Ethics Commission.

The last item that we will be taking up is the commission's response to the replacement (with only 3 months left for the commission's tenure) of two of the commissioner's as a result of the recent election. The draft letter is part of the meeting materials online.

You can read the agenda for the meeting and all the proposals online on the city's web site at . The link will take you to the document browser. From there click on COMMISSIONS--AGENDAS AND MINUTES-->CHARTER REVIEW-->Agendas And Reports-->2011-->2-16-2011. This will take you to the page with all of the documents for our meeting. The Agenda, Minutes, and the reports are all there and viewable. They can also be downloaded as PDF files.

Future meetings will be discussing the possible formation of a Police Commission, Elections (slightly different than Elected Officials), Rules for Commission, and other issues within the charter. I promise that I'll report on any upcoming meetings.

If you have comments to make on any of these items, or any other items which may come before the Commission, please feel free to attend. The meetings are open to the public and public comment is appreciated.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

dining with d-bomb

Since Dave "D-Bomb" Allen blogged about our dinner together, I reckon that turnabout is fair play. Or, rather, no fair that he should have the final word.

As he wrote, Dave and I took the train to Union Station, where K. picked us up after work. On the train, we did indeed chat about blogging[1], as well as Claremont and Pomona city politics, books, newspapers, restaurants, and books. Oh, and books.

Park's BBQ is on South Vermont, well south of where we used to live (yes, we spent a year in North Koreatown before we moved to Pomona). When we arrived, we were the only Caucasians in the room, as far as I could tell. Later, a couple of white-dude-Asian-girl couples came in.

Possibly because of our appearance of being clueless noobs, they seated us in the center of the room, and the staff hovered over us as if we were a trio of toddlers using cutlery for the first time. And no WAY were they going to let us grill our own bulgogi! One of half a dozen servers appeared tableside every few minutes to poke at the meat, adjust a dish, wipe our chins, or whatever. At one point they were all standing around us at once, and it was like being at an operating table, with the grill as the incision. Forceps!

The food was very good, but not as superlative as Jonathan Gold suggested. We checked out the basics -- bulgogi and dolsut bibimbap -- as well as the kimchi pancake. All three were good, but I'm sticking by my credo that Holt Avenue's own KBBQ has the best marinade I've ever tasted in the US.

I'm a big fan of the panchan (all the small dishes), and these were pretty good. I was not wild about their kimchi, though. It may very well have special homestyle appeal to a Korean (it had a slightly musty funky taste), but I like KBBQ's better. I also prefer my own homemade and, for that matter, the storebought at either Marukai or Market World.

One nice touch was the two big bowls of salad -- one cabbage and one scallion -- served with the panchan. I particularly feasted on the latter, which was the green tails of scallions sliced lengthwise to make something like spaghetti, and then dressed in vinegar and sesame seeds. I should see if I can replicate it at home.

Overall, an excellent meal with even better company. Now we just need to drag D-Bomb to KBBQ so he can see what real bulgogi's all about.

[1]Although! Let the record show that I started blogging again more frequently before our dinner together -- specifically after a glass of wine with Pride in Garfield Park and Miz Lois, who gave me a whole list of things to blog about.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

friends and neighbors

While you were at the library's Laura Ingalls Wilder Gingerbread Sociable or the opening show of Roméo et Juliette, I was driving all over creation on errands. And it was certainly a day for people-watching.

• In Claremont, there's a guy I see walking -- no, marching -- around who looks like a cross between a used-car salesman and a Jedi knight: way-too-big suit in a weird color of brown with big flappy pants that only reach his shins, a long loose black vest underneath that goes almost to his knees, and a crisp white shirt. Buddy Holly glasses. He's wearing the same thing, every time I see him. Wish I knew his story!

• At Upland Farmers Market (the store, not the weekly event), an elderly Desi lady in a sari with a Northface fleece jacket over it, barreling around angrily, picking up objects, and yelling across the store at the cashier, "How much this?!" For certain items, her husband would reply to the answer with "You take [half the amount mentioned?" After 10 minutes of entertainment (for everyone but the poor cashier, who is the owner's daughter), they stomped out without buying anything, complaining loudly to each other in some subcontinental language. They got into a brand new minivan, him driving and her sitting in the backwards-facing seat in the way-back.

• Stuck in line at the Garey Stater Brothers, I was surprised to see how many people try to shoplift a couple of small items by leaving them in the cart when they put everything else on the conveyor belt. Los Bros is onto them though; a clerk politely asks, "Did you want that jar of mustard in your cart?" The woman in front of me did it (and got nabbed), and ended up not having enough money and having to remove some stuff. I was relieved to see that she didn't remove the rice, beans, giant bag of frozen spinach, or 89¢ package of ham hocks; instead, the Doritos, Sprite, and canned refried beans were returned to the shelves.

I suspect everyone's a big old character if you just knew them well enough.

Friday, February 4, 2011

oh honey no

Dear self:

Don't drive down Holt Ave. at 6pm. If you must go to Hoa Binh, wait till just before closing, or go on the weekend. If you're going over to Pride in Garfield Park's house, take Kingsley.

And if you must be on Holt around dinner time, don't look at those pitiful barely-clad girls shivering on the street corners. Don't think about how cold they must be, or how uncomfortable it is to stand around on 5" heels. Don't notice their bony elbows and scrawny shins. Ignore the way they search the faces of passing drivers for hope of a quick Jackson. Definitely look away when a shiny new sedan slows down and pulls over. Picture yourself on a sunny beach, lest you recall your friend telling you about after-work pickups and backseat blowjobs in the unincorporated patch of land nearby.

Drive home as quickly as possible, looking neither to the left nor the right. Above all, block from your mind the sordid combination of enterprise and exploitation that takes place nightly a few blocks from your tidy block of bungalows and your wonderful daffy neighbors.

You'll be glad you did.



Thursday, February 3, 2011

a day at the races

In all of our years consuming American culture by the bucketload, K. and I had never been to the horsetrack. We have good friends, the Admiral and the Trumpeter, who go to Santa Anita fairly often, and when the track sent them a mailer for a food truck festival, they proposed that we join them and finally get our racetrack on.

If you ever get the opportunity, don't go on food-truck festival day. Leaving aside all the snide things one might say about the hipster fad for dining à la roach coach, the infield was utterly mobbed. Tahrir Square at high noon is less crowded than the Santa Anita infield was on saturday. The offerings looked good (cupcakes! bacon! all your hipster faves!), but the lines, if straightened out, probably stretched to Monrovia. We waited about an hour for a delicious dosa at the Ommm Good dosa truck (split beween the four of us), and then we bailed and hit the grandstand for hot dogs.

But I wasn't there for the food (or the beer, which in the grandstand was limited to yellow and yellower). No, I was there to play the ponies! And to people-watch, but mainly to play the ponies. It was great fun, although kinda intimidating at first, given the centuries of tradition that have built up around horse-racing. I was glad we had experts for chaperones. (The Admiral is serious enough that he follows races going on at tracks in NY and Florida.)

In the end, I placed a whole bunch of weenie $2 show bets on horses I liked the names of, and I walked away with a whole $2 more than I entered with. K. ended up down a few bucks, I think. A good time was had by all.

Next up, as predicted by Marx (Groucho, that is): A night at the opera! Yes, our own Repertory Opera Company is staging Gounod's Roméo et Juliette the next three saturdays, at 2pm at the First Christian Church (where they performed Carmen). Will I see you there?