Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pomona Christmas Parade 2012

There's only a little more than a week until the Downtown Pomona Christmas Parade and Holiday at the Plaza, on Saturday Dec. 8 at 10:00 am. This year's parade looks to be the biggest ever with nearly 120 entrants walking and riding the 2-mile route from Second and Gibbs to Park Ave. then south to 7th Street.

This year's theme for the parade is A Golden Christmas and will feature as grand marshall, Olympic gold medalist in skeet shooting, Kimberly “Kim” Rhode. Rhode. ACal Poly Pomona alumnus, she is the first American in history to win medals in five consecutive Olympic Games in an individual sport. As the United States’ first Gold medal winner at the London Games this past summer, she matched the world record by hitting 99 out of the 100 clays.

Also featured in this year's parade will be the Parade's "Community Heroes," retired Pomona Police detective Danny Kono and Detective Jennifer Turpin who were the lead officers who broke the Ethan Esparza murder case; Donna Dolgovin, founder of Helping Hands Caring Hearts ministry; and Tommy Manning, a community activist who helped subdue a violent airline passenger on a flight from Chicago to Long Beach.

Participating in the parade will be children's groups, service clubs, car clubs, equestrian units as well as military and high school marching bands.

The parade begins at 10 a.m at East Second and Gibbs Streets. The parade will travel west on Second Street and cross Garey Avenue before heading south on Park Avenue. The procession will turn east on Seventh Street and end in front of the Pomona Civic Center Plaza.

Following the parade, festivities will continue at the plaza with the annual Holiday at the Plaza. Holiday at the Plaza is a fun community event for children and adults of all ages. You'll be able to visit Santa and his elves; enjoy food, entertainment, crafts, local information vendors, and more. Various organizations will have booths where you can purchase last minute Christmas gifts or participate in a fun activity. Additionally there will be snow and fun activities for the family.

Hope to see you all there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pomona not business friendly? Starts at the top

At the November 19 City Council meeting was a surreal scene. Not the folks trying to relitigate the election, but for what the Pomona City Council, especially allegedly pro-business members, are doing to drive away business.

What was nominally a routine item to process an addition of allowable uses in a commercial zone turned into an almost hour-long digression after Freddie Rodriguez mouthed some objections to push back the issue to the future. King Equipment is a vendor of scissor lifts, forklifts, and golf carts. They have outgrown their Ontario location and thought that the former Rancho Valley Chevrolet building and site would be a good location for them, such that the building is already built and can accommodate their needs. The Planning Commission certainly thought so, voting 7-0 to approve both the zone amendment and the conditional use permit. According to the applicant's representative, King Equipment could generate over $10 million annually in sales to Pomona, and an additional $10 million in leases. This is over six figures of sales tax revenue per year that the City is abandoning.

He did not verbalize what those objections were, although Cristina Carrizosa expressed some uncertainty about a construction dealer coexisting with a Target (and a future home improvement store, which has not been signed yet, that may be more compatible with the type of equipment sold). But these items were discussed at the Planning Commission level, and were presumably resolved. Certainly no one objected to it at that stage, hence the 7-0 vote. Rodriguez wanted to push the issue to the end of January, something that Paula Lantz objected to strongly, and others piled on. Therefore, this matter was postponed only two weeks - while not as damaging as two months, still enough to add uncertainty.

Also, City staff failed to notify the applicant that an appeal to the conditional use permit approval was filed. The City Clerk made an excuse that the appeal was filed too late, and would have been sent to the applicant on Tuesday, and Community Development Director Mark Lazaretto also stated that normal procedures would have been followed, which did not entail giving the applicant a courtesy contact on the appeal - indeed, Planning Manager Brad Johnson informed the applicant that the zone amendment item was routine and did not warn the applicant of any problems.

Incidentally Freddie Rodriguez campaigned against red tape for Pomona businesses. Yet by not clearly articulating what exactly the issue was at the meeting, there is no way for the future business owner to address it. It took another council member to state her objections to the project, which while reasonable should have been made earlier in the process. So King Equipment may end up going to Chino or Chino Hills (which also have vacant auto dealerships and lower sales taxes than Pomona to boot), leaving the Rancho Valley Chevrolet empty and moving sales tax revenue to another city. Also, overturning a 7-0 Planning Commission decision sets a horrible precedent to businesses, who will not spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours preparing plans and elevations, and paying fees for a project that will not happen.

With the new City Council members Debra Martin and John Nolte being sworn in two weeks, this will be one of their first decisions - to determine whether Pomona will continue to attract business, or show, as with the transfer station decision and other choices, that Pomona wants to be too perfect, when being perfect leads to bankruptcy.

Show up on the evening of December 3 and urge the City Council to not schedule a public hearing for the conditional use permit appeal and approve the zone amendment to allow construction equipment dealers as the same as auto dealers, still subject to individual site-specific conditions. Support Pomona tax revenue and oppose last minute surprises sprung by politicians. More details as the meeting gets closer.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pomona city council and water board races wrapup

Some thoughts as I look at the numbers:

  • Good work for John Nolte, completely dominating the field. While I understood the depth of some of the community's anger over the trash station, I was surprised that it seemed to spread beyond the immediate vicinity of the station, or just in the South Pomona area. In the Roosevelt Elementary School and Kellogg Park areas, Nolte won by over a two to one margin. 
  • Where was the Soto machine? You could see that the Torres family still had a good base of supporters and volunteers, based on the strong showing of Robert Torres. But Danielle Soto's weak showing may put the nail in the coffin for this political family. How were the slate mailers in District 1? Did Soto purchase the slates in that district? 
  • Debra Martin's victory over a crowded field is a victory for the grassroots. It is good to see that someone from the "peanut gallery" was able to win a seat on the city council. Steven Atchley, with his tendency to pontificate from the dais, now no longer has a platform to share his views. Some of them may be correct, but often the tone seemed patronizing and dismissive. Let's hope that Martin can cut down on the talk and make decisions, instead of spending ten minutes on some tangent.
  • Paula Lantz rode Lincoln Park and absentee ballots for the win. Juan Carlos Juarez did not campaign in Lincoln Park substantially, and it showed with a 2:1 spread of the votes in the precinct, and most of the absentee votes. Meanwhile Juarez did quite well on the sections of the district between Holt and Kingsley, east of San Antonio. Although Juarez is only down by 90 votes, given the strong absentee ballot showing, unless he can get the late absentees to break for him he is not going to win. This is where the opposition to the trash station really helped Juarez. Any council member from District 4 needs to pay close attention to this area, which has historically experienced a lot of crime and quality of life issues.
  • Will "Fred" Lantz quit running again for water board? While John W. "Fred" Lantz bought up all the slate mailers and had a good ballot statement, he still lost to the incumbent, John Mendoza. Mendoza's key precincts were in north Pomona and the same precincts that Juarez carried. Whether it's incumbency, a Hispanic last name, or just good old fashioned door knocking, Mendoza has proven that he is not just a gadfly but can win re-election. Now it will be up to Fred Lantz to determine if he wants to try again for 2016, and risk being labeled a perennial candidate. Meanwhile Jerry Perez, despite being supported by other water board members, finished a distant third. He campaigned on the Golden State Water Company rate increase issue, despite the fact that Pomona has city-owned water. That will be an awkward conversation back at the water board in December.  
  • Congratulations to Fred Lantz for winning the water board seat on late absentees and provisionals. Demerits to John Mendoza for failing to show up to Board meetings the day after election. At least finish your term, like Danielle Soto did.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pomona mayoral race wrapup

Here's my takeaway on the mayor's race.

  • Rothman rules Phillips Ranch. Despite living in the Westmont area, Mayor Elliott Rothman cleaned up in District 5, which includes Westmont and Phillips Ranch. He gained over 60% of the vote in District 5, which is the highest turnout district in the city, and 52% in District 6 (north Pomona), the second highest turnout district in the city. While Councilman Freddie Rodriguez won his own District 2 (southwest Pomona) it was only by a 42% share. With District 2 being the lowest turnout district in the city, it didn't help in his insurgent campaign.
  • Will all this "Moochie" talk stop if he gets a majority? Once all of the absentee and provisional ballots are counted, it is likely that Rothman will get a majority of the votes in the mayor's race. Yes, the Mayor can have a "Mayor Quimby"-esque feel to his style. He seems lackadaisical, meetings start late, breaks run long, and as David Allen has noted in the past, he likes to dodge long meetings and squirm his way out of taking positions. The family picture of him in a Hawaiian shirt may seem cheesy. But the charges of corruption haven't stuck. (Why are secretaries from JC Penney and bank tellers giving him $1,000 contributions?) The story about the DA investigation of his contributors fizzled when no one made it a campaign issue. The talks of the instant recall when he got elected fizzled out. Despite losing money from the Kinde Durkee fiasco he was able to pull it off with a home-spun campaign of flyers and magnets. Tomas Ursua's camp did more aggressive door to door canvassing, and so did Freddie Rodriguez, but Rothman's base is where the voters are, and it shows. 
  • Less visible union involvement. Other than the shadowy "Citizens for Local Government Accountability" supporting incumbents with their single flyer mailing, there were considerably fewer independent expenditures dropped in my mailbox this cycle for the mayor's race. Maybe they know where to target (more when I do my council wrap up) but I did not receive anything from the unions on this race. Maybe they thought that unseating an incumbent was too difficult, or that the incumbent had it covered and they could focus their attention on other issues, like Proposition 32.
  • Tomas Ursua can't do math. Could it have hurt his campaign? Tomas Ursua, to use another Simpsons analogy, came in as the Lyle Lanley promising to balance the budget without new taxes by "realigning and restructuring services", and by hiring local youth to "patrol their neighborhoods" (a giant liability risk for the city if I've ever seen one). The problem is that, short of outsourcing the police department and the library (which residents have vehemently rejected), there is not enough money there. Pensions have been earned and any attempt at taking earned pensions away would result in a lawsuit. Pomona's pay is already below average and many middle managers refuse to take the promotions that would get them showing up to the City Council every Monday night. Promising the moon didn't help. In addition, despite having an urban planning background, Ursua pushed for more single family homes in Pomona, when the trend is going towards mixed-use development of the type that Rothman has been pushing for downtown. 
  • Freddie Rodriguez had a realistic vision, but he was unable to articulate substantive differences between the mayor. Looking back at my Twitter notes he had innovative, realistic ideas like partnering up with other cities for service delivery, expanding neighborhood watch, and streamlining business regulations and red tape. However, the mailers stayed positive, which is nice, but failed to make much of an impression in my mind to contrast with the status quo.
  • Game ball goes to Elliott Rothman: For (probably) winning a majority of the votes in the election, and for correctly predicting at the mayoral debate that every Pomona measure would fail. May you be more energetic in your second term.

Pomona election measures wrapup

Did you know that the results by community and by district are out on the County's web site? (Click on "votes cast by community".) These numbers do not include late absentee and provisional ballots, but do include all absentees verified prior to election day, as well as all regularly voted ballots.

Some thoughts:

  • Measure T would have resulted in North Pomona and Phillips Ranch electing councilmembers for the center city and South Pomona. Despite District 5 having over 20% less population than the other districts, District 5 has the second highest number of votes cast out of all of the six council districts. District 6, in north Pomona, has the highest voter population in the area, although this may have been boosted by competitive local races. Measure T received a majority in District 1, yet how would west Pomona feel about Phillips Ranch picking their council person? It is easy to see how passage of this would have led immediately to legal action for violation of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Charter reform too complicated? The Charter Reform Commission's changes failed to register with voters. There was a substantial dropoff in votes recorded for this measure, compared to the other measures. For some reason, Phillips Ranch voters (District 5) rejected Measure U in greater numbers than the rest of the city.
  • Hotel tax increase fails narrowly: Although unlikely, it could still pass once all absentee and provisional ballots are counted. District 4 (east Pomona) passed the measure while all other districts rejected it in similar percentages. The property transfer tax failed more substantially.
  • Why does Phillips Ranch hate the library? In District 5, Measure X failed by a 51-49 margin. Only District 2 (southwest Pomona), where the library is actually located, passed it by the sufficient 2/3 margin. District 6 in North Pomona also notably had reduced levels of support for the library, with a 59/41 split. When you consider that District 5 and 6 comprised 20% and 24% of the citywide vote, respectively, while District 2 only had 12% of the citywide vote, the measure was doomed to failure if people in the outer areas of Pomona don't feel connected to the City. District 5 and 6 are generally more affluent than the rest of Pomona, and for those who need to use a library, the libraries in Diamond Bar, La Verne, and Claremont are closer to them than Pomona's. County libraries don't have the historic breadth of Pomona's, but they are much better at stocking new and popular material than the Pomona library.

    How was the campaign in Phillips Ranch? How was the campaign in general? While my Pomona residence received door knockers and canvassers for some of the mayoral candidates and John Mendoza, there did not appear to be any mailers or canvassers for the library tax. The campaign seemed to be yard signs (who don't vote), articles in the newspaper, and neighbors talking to each other, which works great in areas which support the library. Although there was no organized opposition, there was the sentiment out of many people that libraries are a non essential service and that Pomona could mooch off other cities' libraries. How did the pro-library tax people counter that perception? For those in Phillips Ranch, did you see people talking about the library tax? 
Later we'll look at the mayor's race and individual council races by precinct. You can review the citywide results by district here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

a fresh voice

Anonymous posted this as a comment under a 2008 post, which means that few people will see it.  So I'm taking the liberty (sorry, Anon!) of reposting as a post of its own.  -- meg

Hey guys, I'm a newb to the Pomona blogs but glad they exist! Thanks for caring about our town. I actually bought Nell Soto's old house on Orange Grove and Huntington in district 1 (and since then had numerous knocks on the door with some interesting stories).

I had no idea when I bought the place 3 years ago that Pomona had such neglected areas, or that there was such corruption in our elected officials. Since moving in I've experienced auto theft, drug deals on my block, and a general lack of neighborly behavior. That being said, I want to help facilitate some change in this town and have no idea how. I call the graffiti hotline and ask Pomona pd to come by when homeless are going through my trashcans or soliciting off the White ave off ramp but that's not much. What would you suggest?

Monday, November 5, 2012

sad news

Many if not most of M-M-M-My Pomona's readers know Ms. Lois, beloved children's librarian at the Pomona Public Library (don't forget to vote!) and storyteller extraordinaire.

Alas, Ms. Lois's mother passed away on Saturday morning.  She would have been 93 in February.  If you spent much time talking to Ms. Lois, you knew her mom, who must have been as big a character and as warmhearted as Lois herself, and you probably also heard stories about her mom's twin brother back in Nebraska.  If I remember correctly (Lois, correct me if I'm wrong), Mom had been living with Lois for some years now, and I can only imagine that it was a cozy, cheerful household.

Lois needs as many hugs as she can get right now; imagine losing your mother and roommate all at once, to say nothing of career chaos earlier in the year.  Please hold Lois in the light (as the Quakers say), and if you see her around town, give her two hugs -- one for yourself, and one for me.

Me, I'm raising a glass in snowy New York, in memory of Lois's mother and the stories Lois would tell about her over a glass of red wine at dba256.