Friday, August 17, 2012

Trash station theater continues

Although no one seems to have tipped me off to the press conference (and why hold a press conference outside of a closed City Hall?) it looks like someone decided to file a lawsuit. I had predicted this some time ago but it does appear that the transfer station will be heard in a court of law. If someone can send me a copy of the case number and what was filed I would appreciate it.

For the IESC, the original organizers of the anti trash station movement, they get demerits from opponents for failing to persist after the project was opposed. "United Voices of Pomona" appear to be a newly constructed group with no web presence as of yet - it is unclear who the plaintiffs are or how many exist. As one person wrote on their Facebook page,
Hey IESC, didnt see you standing with the community at today's press conference. Were you too busy hanging out with the owners of this transfer station? Let me remind you that the community DOESN'T want this and we will make sure YOU and this transfer station go down. 

Of course, the many Pomonans without jobs or would like to see city services increased without taxing the population would disagree.

It also bleeds over into the 2012 elections, with the issue of the transfer station, the library, and possible tax increases for fire looming. The City Clerk has helpfully posted public contact information for all candidates.

For District 1, attorney John Nolte joins former Disneyland superintendent Jojo Doniza and Rubio Gonzalez against incumbent Danielle Soto. District 4 has transfer station supporter Candace Berry and labor organizer Juan Carlos Garcia Juarez against Paula Lantz, while District 6 may have the longest list of candidates, many of whom will be strong. Running against incumbent Steve Atchley are photographer Debra Martin, art dealer Ron Vander Molen, businesswoman Eunice Russell, Assemblywoman Norma Torres's son Robert Torres, and Mario Ramos. For Mayor running against incumbent Elliott Rothman are councilman Freddie Rodriguez and businessman Tomas Ursua.

Still no Ginna Escobar recall.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Save Our Pomona Public Library

Two events coming up out of the Library Task Force.

August 14th Fundraising Event

On August 14, 2012, if you print and present this flyer at the Elephant Bar Restaurant in Montclair, 20% of your lunch or dinner check will be donated to the Friends of Pomona Public Library.

Elephant Bar Restaurant
4949 S. Plaza Ln.
Montclair, CA 91763

Save Our Library Rally: 8.15.2012

Save Our Library Rally
Aug. 15, 2012 4-5:30pm
Speakers: Friends of the Pomona Public Library &
Special Performance by Ballet Folklorico

Meet on the steps of the Library
625 South Garey Avenue
Pomona, CA 91766

Join us in support of our Pomona Public Library!
Please download the Rally Flyer and help us get the word out!

For the latest information on the efforts to save the library, visit the Save Our Pomona Public Library at

The library task force continues to meet on Mondays at 10:00 am in the library's conference room. ANYONE can attend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Groundhog day and other council meeting notes

Some notes from tonight's council meeting (which dragged on past 1 am tonight, which it hasn't for a while):

  • It looks like it will be Groundhog Day for trash station theater, as some members of the community are continuing to be upset about the decision, but can't find the money or the legal position to hire attorneys to make the CEQA challenges necessary to actually derail the project. Instead, they will continue to rally outside the meeting and at public comment. Over two dozen people spoke on this issue. It didn't help matters that a Cristina Carrizosa-requested report on the next steps for the transfer station was made right before adjournment at 1 a.m. Since as I explained before, the decision cannot be referended since it is a granting of a conditional use permit within existing structures, the city attorney explained that the only time this would come back would be the development agreement for the transfer fees, or if the applicant somehow violated the conditional use permit. And any attempt to extract a large amount of money that would essentially render the project unprofitable would result in legal action by the trash station proponents.
  • Carrizosa mentioned that there were 8,000 signatures against the trash station, but unfortunately those aren't voters. To really make a difference you have to defeat the incumbent candidates that voted for the trash station. Unfortunately this means narrowing down the field and concentrating your efforts on one person, since there are no runoff elections. Or, you could try a recall - and Ginna Escobar is a prime target. On a police fees issue (more later) she was smug towards Carrizosa. She has been shown not to pay attention when the public is speaking, and from this member of the audience, seems not to care much about the public and is often unprepared. Even if signature gatherers can't come up with the approximate 2,500 signatures necessary to recall her, the trash station opponents should at least gather the 30 signatures necessary to file an intent to recall, and serve it on her during a council meeting. I'd love to look at the expression on her face when that happens. (Here's a sample form from Fullerton.
  • Steve Atchley is a loquacious guy. Being a professor does that to you, but he is sounding strident and dismissive of the legitimate concerns people have about outsourcing, the transfer station, and other issues. I recognize he doesn't want the city to go bankrupt. We need the money saved from outsourcing, and we need the money from the trash station. But he could calm down a little and try not to be so argumentative from the dais. (It may not matter, since when there are five or six candidates in the race, the incumbent title, access to slate mailers, and a strong base will get you back in office easily.)
  • We spent an hour filleting the Public Works Director on the park service outsourcing - although much of that was well deserved as he seemed unprepared for the challenging questions and the protest made by a losing contractor. We spent thirty minutes on a public hearing for police fees, with the staff report on the fees sprung on the public on a Thursday evening after a month of delay - and more micromanagement from the dais about the fee structure. Questions are fine, although supposedly one of the strategic plan goals was for questions to be asked of the department head via email (especially if it is something that is evident from the report). But more preparation needs to be done to give council members and the public time to digest reports, so that maybe some of these questions could be preemptively addressed.
  • Which leads to the billboard issue. A billboard company paid to place a ballot measure on the ballot, which was turned down by two of the five council members present, thus causing it to fail since four votes were needed. Carrizosa and Freddie Rodriguez definitely have cause to be skeptical about this issue, especially about the timing of this, as a competing billboard company made legal arguments about the lack of notice. Carrizosa was right in bringing up the fact that approving a ballot measure, and it passing, could lead billboard companies to believe that billboard approval was ministerial in nature, not discretionary, and lead to lawsuits - much like the Universal Waste lawsuit on the First Street trash station. The ballot initiative also would have allowed the city to permit digital billboards, which can cause light pollution for large distances if not regulated properly. If the billboard companies wanted to put it on the ballot, they should have just hired signature gatherers instead of this sneaky process.
  • Library tax was put on the ballot with a $38 per year fee, no sunset, and minimum 38 hours of service. Although I think it's enough money to keep the doors open for 38 hours, I do agree with Danielle Soto, the City Attorney and City Manager that the minimum time severely restricts future flexibility. Fortunately, it appears that the special tax on its own will keep the doors open of the library for 38 hours, although there may be no reference service, no book purchases, and no new equipment should the general fund situation not improve.
  • I'll have more on conditional use permits and liquor stores in a separate post, but I do find it extremely disturbing that the community development director would recommend not to set a public hearing on a 4-3 decision, appealed by a fellow council member. There really needs to be a policy such that these appeals automatically go on the agenda should it not be a supermajority vote. This would discourage those applicants who were turned down unanimously from appealing, while avoiding the waste of time of the double hearings - one vote to determine whether or not to hold a hearing, and another to actually hear the issue. 
  • Election filing closes on August 10. Will some of the challengers get out the way, or will they choose to split the vote? Fortunately the City Council is going on break for a month, but we can look forward to last minute political jockeying in September.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Council Meeting Tonight

Since I can't be at the meeting tonight, I have prepared written arguments on three of the items on the agenda and sent them to the council. The items that I discuss below are: 13: The approval of a lease of automated checkout equipment from the LA County Library at the rate of $1 a year; 17: a resolution by the city stating that despite the relaxing of the Brown Act rules by the state as a cost-saving measure, the city will continue to conform to ALL requirements of the original act; and 20: The placing on the ballot of a $38 per land parcel special library tax.

If you can make the meeting this evening, PLEASE go. However, it looks like it will be a long one that may stretch late into the evening.

Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers, 

Unfortunately, I’m unable to attend this evening’s council meeting. However, I would like to weigh in on the following items: 

Item 13: I’m very much in favor of accepting the County Library’s generous lease of equipment for our library. 

Item 17: I am very pleased that the city is taking this step to ensure the continued adherence to all the provisions of the Brown Act. I had heard some concern in the community that the relaxing of these rules might lead to items getting “snuck” onto agendas both for the closed session meetings and the open meetings. It is important that the public have at the very least the protections currently afforded by the Brown Act. 

Item 20: As I stated at last Monday’s meeting, the idea of a parcel tax to help in the funding of the library is needed! I strongly urge the council to place on the ballot this item. However, we are presented with four options. 
      First, whether or not to have a non-supplanting of library funding clause. The idea that came out of the library board of trustees was that they did not want to see the special library tax as completely eliminating the funding from the city. The city has funded the library for over 100 years and they wanted to see that funding continue. The idea of a special library tax was NOT to become the sole funding for the library, but to take SOME of the burden off of the city’s general fund. This is a common requirement in tax measures to ensure funding isn’t shifted. The funding level that the new tax would raise would NOT be adequate to maintain our library at a reasonable level. So I urge you to include some language that would protect library funding into the future. If you don’t like the 38 hour level of service, then make it a guarantee of 30 hours. That would be 6 hours a day for 5 days a week. Or even make it this year’s funding level. But please include a level of funding that will ensure that the library will be operable for the citizens in the future. 

     Secondly, the idea of a “sunset” to the parcel tax. With the attitude of staff’s recommendation that the city can’t contribute any more to the library than what would come with a new tax, do we really think that in 7 or 10 years that the situation will be any different? If the tax were to suddenly go away, where would the additional general fund funds come from? Police? Fire? Street Maintenance? Parks? The library is not a fixed length project. It should and will continue into the far future, so “sunsetting” the tax would only mean that at the end of the current tax, we’d be back asking the voters to again impose a special tax. Voters hate it when you do that. I really believe that this is the problem with the way that the schools present tax measures. I can’t tell you the number of people who complain, “every year they’re back asking for more.” Often it’s not really MORE, it’s asking to reapprove the same things we’ve already expressed as a priority. The Library Board discussed this issue at length and with only one negative vote decided not to put such a clause into their request. Please do not “sunset” our library funding. 

     Thank you so very much for allowing me to express my opinions on these important matters. 

John L. Clifford

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pomona Heritage Old Home Restoration Workshop

You've probably seen the yard signs around town. This is Pomona Heritage's annual FREE workshop where you can learn the things that every owner of a vintage home needs to know about a variety of subjects, including how to deal with the city. And they even provide lunch.

This year, as an added bonus, they will be conducting a tour of the treasures of the Pomona Public Library's Special Collections. This area is due to close for the next year under the new working budget and this may be your last chance to see these important historic items for some time to come. The tour will commence AFTER the workshop.