Latest News From Mayor Pro Tem Tom King
12-20-12 On behalf of my family, the City Council, and our superb staff at the City of Walnut I want to express my hopes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and a prosperous New Year.
12-18-12 Bloomberg Magazine has listed Walnut, California as the best town in California to raise a family. This national recognition follows Walnut being listed twice as the Best Small Town in California by CNN Money Magazine. Not a bad accolade for a great community and a great present for the residents of our great City.
12-1-12 The Walnut City Council has approved the refinancing of it's municipal bonds. The new rates are lower, shorten the term of the bonds, and will result in a reduction of property taxes for your next year property tax.
11-28-12 The Walnut City Council approved parking restrictions on Carbonia Avenue from Deloraine Drive to Divonne Drive after requests were received by the residents complaining of students from the high school parking all day in front of their residences. Parking between 9 AM and 3 PM will be restricted to residents with permits. The City has provided an alternative site for the students at the Park and Ride facility across from the Teen Center and High School.
11-14-12 The City of Walnut voted to join a new Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority in order to complete a railroad grade separation on Valley Boulevard at Fairway. The proposed separation will be to raise the tracks and allow traffic to flow underneath a bridge. The ACE project is in the process of removing itself from oversight of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments as that agency is more involved in planning, than overseeing transportation projects.
10-24-12 The City Council met in a special meeting with Fran De Lach, the acting executive director of the San Gabriel Council of Governments. Mr. Delach reported on the specific progress leading to the reforms at the SGVCOG and expressed a desire for Walnut to rejoin the organization.
October 10, 2010 The Walnut City Council met at a special study session with representatives of Southern California Edison (SCE). SCE requested the approval to tear up Grand Avenue for six months to put in needed upgrades to their underground transmission lines. The City Council did not support the upgrade at this time because Grand Avenue has recently been resurfaced. The project will be put on hold until the next re-surfacing of the street.
September 26, 2010 The Southern California Gas Company announced it is converting all of it's gas meters to include radio transmitors. The meters will transmit only a matter of seconds every month and be monitored by remote receiving stations.
September 12, 2012 The Walnut City Council met in a special meeting with Larry Kosmont of Kosmont and Associates. Mr. Kosmont presented the City Council with ideas for re-invigoration of the Albertson's shopping center at Nogales and Amar which is scheduled to be closed along with numerous other Albertson's stores in California due to the economy. Mr Kosmot stated he believed the closure could lead to an even better anchor store coming to Walnut in the near future. Albertson's holds a long term lease on the property.
August 8, 2012 The Walnut City Council appointed Jay Schwartz to the Parks and Recreation Commission. Mr. Schwarz has served the community in many ways and has recently retired from Cal Poly Pomona as a professor.
7-11-12 For many years, the Sheriff of Los Angeles County has issued badges to elected officials. This has become very problematic and embarassing as recent events in Cudahay have proven. A disgraced and corrupt city councilmember let a female pose with handguns wearing the badge in a local bar.
The recent uptick of arrests of corrupt government officials has caused the Sheriff to recall the issuance of the badges. With the Public Integrity Unit and the FBI hard at work cleaning up local city councils, it will save the hassle of picking up more of the badges at the booking cages at local police stations. The California Attorney General has opined that the issuance of these badges is improper.
6-28-12 Nick Conway, the long-time executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, surrendered today on a felony warrant charging him with multiple counts of conflict of interest for allegedly obtaining grants that benefited his private company.
Conway, 60, surrendered before Superior Court Judge Shelly Torrealba. His arraignment on four felony counts of conflict of interest was set for July 23 in Department 30 at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Conway, who was placed on paid leave by the agency last week, was released on $100,000 bail.
Deputy District Attorney Dana Aratani with the Public Integrity Division filed the felony complaint for arrest warrant late Tuesday.
Conway owns Arroyo Associates Inc., which manages the public agency. Under a management agreement between the agency and Conway’s private firm, AAI received more money to manage specific state and county grants, which prosecutors allege Conway obtained as executive director.
Aratani said the grant agreements added $143,000 in additional charges to COG for one fiscal year period.
Government Code section 1090 bars public officials from having financial interest in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members.
COG is a joint powers authority with members from 31 cities, three county supervisors and three water agencies. The agency is designed to address issues that affect the entire San Gabriel Valley.
Fran DeLach, an experienced, well respected and recently retired City Manager from the City of Azusa has been named interim Executive Director of the SGVCOG.
6-26-12 Outgoing San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments President Angel Carillo has taken a position with the firm of Arroyo Strategies Group. This company does strategic planning, and grant applications for member cities of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. Among the SGVCOG member cities doing business with Arroyo Strategies Group are:
• City of Pomona
• City of La Puente
• City of El Monte
• City of South El Monte
• City of West Covina
• City of Rosemead
• City of Montebello
• City of South Gate
• City of Industry
*SR-60 Coalition (non member but SGVCOG cities represented)
The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments has been rocked by conflict of interest allegations during Carillo's term of office as COG President. The SGVCOG paid a $50,000 settlement to community activist Gil Aguirre of San Dimas, who alleges that the SGVCOG leadership has been violating open government meeting laws.
Carillo recently refused to answer to allegations that the Executive Director of the SGVCOG diverted rent payments due the SGVCOG to his private company account by a SGVCOG sponsored homeless agency.
The lack of transparency by the SGVCOG leadership and the failure to address specific items of concern jeapordize the City of Walnut's continued participation in the organization. Being elected to public office or public service is not intended to be a ticket to self enrichment.
6-6-12 District Attorney investigators served search warrants at the offices of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments today. Also named in the search warrants was Nick Conway, the executive director, and his home was searched in Pasadena. Conway has been the subject of previous investigations by the District Attorney regarding alleged conflicts of interest.
A recent article in an internet blog named the Sierra Madre Tattler reported that Conway received rent payments for a program he recommended to the SGVCOG for adoption. I reported this to the SGVCOG President and he completely failed to act. In an obvious act of retaliation, the President of the SGVCOG recommended that Past Presidents, such as myself and Carol Herrera, the former President of the COG be eliminated from the Executive Committee.
4-25-12 Mary Su was selected as Mayor by the Walnut City Council. Newly elected City Council member Eric Ching was also seated at the dais. Council members Cartagena and Tragarz were also sworn in after the recent election was certified. Tom King was selected by the City Council as Mayor Pro Tem. Outgoing City Council member Joaquin Lim was presented a City tile honoring his years of service on the Council. Lim, made reference to his planning on returning to the Council in 2014. He also thanked several of his supporters who worked with him in fighting the NFL stadium project.
3-30-12 The proposed Fairway flyover adopted by ACE Project will alleviate accidents.
Proposed Fairway and Valley Flyover
Participation in regional organizations such as the League of California Cities, and the Contract Cities organization bring local representation to regional issues.
This 1.4 billion dollar project brings needed grade separations to safely allow motorists to cross busy railroad crossings which intersect major highways.
One project which had languished was the much needed Fairway crossing which has been the scene of many serious train vs. motorist collisions. Engineering difficulties made a overhead crossing and an underpass nearly impossible. Pulling on the success of the Sunset overcrossing, ACE boardmember King requested consideration of a flyover.
After careful consideration of the County Public Works Department, the City of Industry, the ACE Board, and the Board of Governors of the SGVCOG, the Fairway flyover has been adopted as a phase II project of the Authority. It is hoped that future Transportation funding can be obtained to continue the flyover to Lemon Avenue, which will soon have a freeway offramp. A flyover at both intersections would alleviate traffic congestion and eliminate safety concerns at these intersections. Engineering studies have already started on this grade separation.
3-13-12 Council member King spent the day at Oswalt Academy as the "principal for a day" and viewed the innovative computer programs which have earned the school high accolades as a World IB school. Council member King visited classrooms with Principal Kevin Despard, who attended the school as a student years ago. Despard and King discussed the prospect of the City partnering with the School District and the PTA to erect a electronic information sign for school activities and City emergencies.
3-14-12 Springtime brings with it an increase in small rodents, rabbits, and other small animals. We live in a unique urban rural environment in the City of Walnut. The increase in wildlife means an increase in coyotes, and they are clever at climbing fences into yards. Please do not leave small dogs and cats unattended outside even during the day. Do not leave food out at night, or even bones.
Recently a dog missing for over a week was found wandering miles away from his home in Snow Creek. The dog was identified due to a chip installed in his neck by a vet. The dog had lost his collar and license.
Coyotes can bring distemper and other diseases that can be transmitted to pets. So make sure your vaccinations are up to date. If you take your dog on our 26 miles of hiking and equestrian trails, please make sure to pick up after your dog. Dog waste bags are positioned in local parks and in high traffic hiking areas, such as Meadow Pass Road.
Lastly, a dog was severely injured last week by a negligent resident golfing in a public park. If you see anyone golfing, please call the police as golf balls can injure or kill a bystander.
3-2-12 The financial costs of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) high risk status caused by the relationship with Arroyo and Associates continue to rise. Two CALTRANS audit reports found inadequate procurement processes, grant management, contract management, and financial management systems. Continued contractural agreement with the SGVCOG and Arroyo Associates places all communities who are members of the organization at risk.
Under a pending budget revision for the current fiscal year Arroyo Associates will be paid almost $750,000 for the management of the SGVCOG and associated activities. The actual costs attributed to Arroyo Associates are always a bit hard to pin down accurately because numbers seem to regularly change, but proposed for the 2011/2012 fiscal year they amount to management fees of almost $430,000 and grant and special project fees of over $320,000. In addition to these annual costs, the SGVCOG and not Arroyo Associates, have incurred the following additional expenses in connection with the two recent Caltrans audits, approximately:
SGVCOG payment to Arroyo for Audit Related Costs: $72,600
SCAG/Caltrans Payment Reduction for OWP: $65,000
Legal Costs of First Caltrans Audit: $110,000
To Date Legal Costs Second Audit: $72,800
Response Costs For Second Caltrans Audit: $23,000
Organizational Review Resulting from Second Audit: $20,000
SGVCOG Share of Reimbursement for Second Caltrans Audit: $36,900
Estimated Total: $400,500
These figures do not include the costs for repeated public interest requests by newspapers, and free speech advocates who question the SGVCOG over it's open meeting policies.
The SGVCOG cites are paying ongoing and growing legal responses for Arroyo's to citizen's Brown Act complaints that were lodged against Executive Director Nick Conway. The SGVCOG lawyer has also had direct contact with the District Attorney over similar complaints to that office. It would be more prudent to have those inquires made by Arroyo's own legal team rather that using taxpayer money to defend a contract employee.
2-28-12 The voters have permitted the medical use of marijuana for in California. This initiative contrast with Federal laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of this drug. Cities, under current zoning laws have the authority to regulate the issuance of conditional use permits to determine if these establishments operate in incorporated cities.
Walnut made a decision to not permit the sale of marijuana in the City limits. La Puente, without such an ordinance, saw a proliferation of marijuana clinics, eventually numbering around a dozen. Clearly there were not enough sick people in La Puente to support this number of marijuana clinics. That City has taken steps to limit the number of establishments. The drug trade has now taken steps to involve themselves in local politics, and are running candidates in local elections to eventually permit the opening of marijuana clinics.
Recently a clinic illegally opened in Walnut in violation of local ordinances. In addition, the clinic made building improvements without a permit. That establishment was given enforcement activity by the city council, and has closed it's doors. Federal authorities assisted in getting the business to close. However more of these establishments may challenge Walnut's no dispensary policy in the future. The establishment that closed, clearly was bringing into the city an element of drug users, not in need of medical treatment.
The marijuana industry is very big, and is spending millions of dollars in political efforts to take away the right of cities to regulate clinics.
2-17-12 The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (COG) recently received the final report of an “Organizational Management Audit” from a management consulting. While it covers a number of topics, the primary motivation for the study was to address improper practices cited by a Caltrans’ audit, the most significant of which was a conflict of interest with the COG’s long term contracted management firm, Arroyo Associates Inc.
This was the second time Caltrans found a conflict of interest with Arroyo Associates at COG. Of the many findings and recommendations made in the report, the one that will attract the most attention—and has the most significant long-term ramifications for the COG and its 31 member cities—is a proposal to convert five existing Arroyo Associate employees to COG employees.
Change the structure, we’re supposed to believe, and the problem goes away – one of several shortcomings, mischaracterizations and misguided assumptions contained in the management audit:
It perpetuates the COG’s denial of long-standing conflict-of-interest issues by referring to Caltrans’ repeated, definitive findings as “a bit mystifying.” In fact, Arroyo Associates uses COG resources to identify and obtain outside funding for special work, then reaps additional compensation by carrying out some of the special work. Nothing mystifying about that—a conflict of interest pure and simple.
It suggests Caltrans simply objects to the COG’s contracting out for management services, and that bringing those services “in house” would make the problem go away. Caltrans made no such findings. It simply identified the conflict of interest, which exists to this day, and did not suggest a solution.
There is no real assessment of the cost of the current management contract and no cost estimate for the auditors’ recommendation. After 18 years of contracting with Arroyo Associates and compensation totaling many millions of dollars, there is no way for the COG to know exactly what they are buying with their current management services contract, let alone the new structure proposed by the report.
Converting existing contractor employees to staff appears to have been preordained. Alternatives are either summarily dismissed or recognized as viable but inexplicably ignored in the organizational recommendation. The option of limiting the existing Arroyo contract to COG management only (i.e., no grant-funded work) is rejected as “overly complicated,” “less effective,” and “far more expensive” without further explanation
The well known saying “What is Past is Prologue” is applicable here. Moving existing management from a contract to employee status without a thorough assessment of the above considerations by the COG Governing Board and member cities runs the very real risk of simply replaying the costly and unproductive experience of the past six years. Changing the structure won’t fix our problem or stop the bleeding. Having the right team in place will.
It’s time to put day-to-day management of the COG out to bid.
2-9-11 Free income tax preparation and family services are available in the City of Walnut for those residents who household income is generally under $50,000. If you know of a family who has been affected by the economic downturn or is doing a short sale of their home, the tax implications are tremendous. Additionally, these residents may qualify for a direct cash Earned Income Tax Credit payment of up to $5571.00. Combined refunds and credits can result in a $12,000 credit for affected homeowners. For information, kindly contact Mr. Rafael Zuniga at 323 980 1221. Please help your neighbor who may be in need.
2-8-11 At least one City Council candidate, Michael West is parroting a representation that the City Council is raising taxes or fees in the City of Walnut. That is based on a bill new homeowners received from the assessor that originated in a developer's calculation of LOSMD assesments in the Three Oaks neighborhood. A community meeting was held with the residents by Councilmember King and Mayor Tragarz and city staff which led to a correction of the assessments.
Staff was directed to evaluate the criterion used by Standard Pacific resulting in a correction of the assessment. The City will be assuming maintenance of this area commencing in July. Due to very competitive pricing obtained by Mary Rooney, it is anticipated that the projected costs of maintenance will actually go down, not up.
The initial assessment amount for the Zone was based on cost projections prepared by Standard Pacific. Upon receiving feedback from residents regarding the assessment amount, staff obtained actual costs from the past year (proprietary information from Standard Pacific) and compared them with the assessment amount. From this information, staff concluded that Standard Pacific’s original estimate would likely exceed the amount necessary to pay for FY 2012-13 (by approximately 35%).
While the annual assessment cannot be finalized until competitive proposals and budgets are complete for FY 12-13, it was determined cash flow for the upcoming Fiscal Year would be adequate if the City collected only one half of the current assessed amount.
The Walnut City Council approved a 50% reduction for the current assessment and sent a directive to the County to issue amended tax bills to residents in Zone 9. With the amended tax bill, the assessed amount for this year was cut in half. It is anticipated next year’s assessment will not be reduced to that degree because it will have to fund an entire year’s maintenance. Never-the-less, it will be lower than the original assessment. Residents have or will receive an amended return eliminating the second installment payment for the LOSMD.
During elections, candidates often misrepresent or exagerate claims in order to gain votes. That is why this website is maintained.
2-5-12 The SGV Tribune has a new article about the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and it's Executive director, Nick Conway.
I think the article understates the serious nature of the problem. The SGVCOG get millions of dollars in grants that may have their origins in Federal American Recovery Act funding. Conflicts of interest in Federally funded grants are a no-no. It makes the organization ripe for a forensic audit by Federal authorities. I am concerned that the manner that Executive Director of the SGVCOG Nick Conway may be administering the SGVCOG grants programs could be in violation of California Government Code Section 1090:
"Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members. Nor shall state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees be purchasers at any sale or vendors at any purchase made by them in their official capacity. As used in this article, "district" means any agency of the state formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within limited boundaries. "
Nick Conway (dba Arroyo Seco Associates) provides management and administrative services to a joint powers authority (SGVCOG) and is paid a monthly, fixed price retainer for its work. As part of its duties, Nick Conway manages the activities both of subcontractors to the joint powers authority and/or other public entities who work on publicly funded grant programs that are awarded to the joint powers authority.
Nick Conway gets additional reimbursement for its management activities associated with the grant programs. Nick Conway identifies grant programs to be pursued by the joint powers authority and prepares the grant applications and is compensated by the joint powers authority for doing so; and Nick Conway develops his own scope of work and proposed compensation amounts in connection with the grant programs, negotiates those matters directly with the grant funding entities and subsequently recommends the scope of work and compensation amounts to the board of the SGVCOG as part of the board’s grant approval process; and Nick Conway then manages the grant programs on behalf of the SGVCOG.
That would appear to violate both State and Federal Conflict of Interest laws, and places all San Gabriel Valley COG member agencies AT RISK for the recall of Grants Administered by the SGVCOG. That is an unacceptable risk to my community. Conway's conduct is unacceptable and does not meet ethical standards required by my community or City Council. It also places him in breach of his Management Services Agreement. If the SGVCOG governing board fails to correct this, I will recommend that we suspend our membership in this organization.
John Tran from Rosemead Indicted
2-3-11 US Attorney Andre Briotte announced today that former Rosemead Mayor, and current Democratic candidate for the Assembly John Tran will plead guilty to Federal Bribery charges. Tran allegedly shook down developers with projects pending before the Rosemead City Council. The US Attorney has a task force working corruption in local government in the Los Angeles area.
Military Imposters Banned in Walnut
1-24-12 It is no longer legal to impersonate a US Army General in Walnut. Recently a few military imposters began showing up at 9/11 ceremonies, city hall invocations and other public events. These imposters wear the complete US Army uniform with ranks such as three star general and major. One phony group sold these ranks and operated out of a storefront in Walnut.
Some of these groups legitimately offer free burial services to veterans at the Riverside National Cemetary. But when they take ranks and medals the have not been authorized, that crosses the line of legality and violate the United States Code. The new code simply allows the sheriff to enforce federal regulations. Now the local sheriff will have the authority to tell military imposters they are not welcome in public events to impersonate real soldiers, and gives law enforcment the authority to cite these people to pay and they can be liable for a $250 fine.
Military imposters also are subject to state and federal misdemeanors for wearing rank or medals they have not earned. It is hoped that this new ordinace will discourage this dispicable behavior. Less than one percent of Americans have served as a veteran. But one million have served in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is the responsibility of civil government to enforce the law, not the military.
1-21-12 Ontario International Airport (ONT) in nearby San Bernadino County remains the closet and most convenient airport to the San Gabriel Valley. The Airport is the only one in the region not under local control. Unfortunately, the airport is operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Airports. The City of Los Angeles is poorly positioned to operate the airport in the future due to unfunded liablities incurred by the current mayor of Los Angeles.
The City of Los Angeles had slashed support to Ontario Airport by 85% and raised operating costs to airlines as the highest in the region. This ensures that business goes to LAX, not ONT. It also means that ONT has the highest operating cost per passenger of an similarly sized airport in the US.
What that means to our local economy is the loss of 9200 jobs, and over a half billion dollars to the local economy. Due to the mismanagement of the City of Los Angeles, Ontarion has lost 35 percent of it's operating revenue, and departures are down over 56 percent.
It is high time for the City of Ontario, the County of San Bernadino, or a collaboration of local communities take over Ontario Airport to keep it the preferred airport destination of the San Gabriel Valley. A well utilized airport is an economic engine for a local region.
1-11-12 County Assessor John Noguez today came to the Walnut City Council meeting to announce that Walnut was City which showed the highest increase in property values in 2011 for all of Los Angeles County.
Ironically, Sheriff Lee Baca today held a press conference at Sheriff Headquarters which announced Walnut had the lowest crime rate in Los Angeles County for 2011.
With CNN Money Magazine listing Walnut "Best Small Town in California" two years running, it is a pretty good showing for the year 2011 in the City of Walnut.
11-30-11 The last two decades have shown a dramatic decline in violent crime in most southern California communities. Walnut is rated among the lowest of those communities. On 11-29-11 an armed robbery occurred at the Bank of America on Lemon Avenue. Fortunately no one was injured, and due to the quick actions of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputies a suspect was soon taken into custody.
This rare incident may be the prelude of an increase in violent crime in many local cities. On October 1, 2011 the prisoner release program required under AB 109 (Public Safety Realignment Act) went into effect. This program calls for the release of 30,000 felons to be released from State prisons. The prisoners are being funneled into already overcrowded County jails. That means that in the next few months 7000 State prison inmates will be dumped into the LA County jail with a bed capacity of only 4000 vacancies. The net result will be that the County jail will be dumping more prisoners into local communities. This irresponsible action by the State legislature is a result of budget shortfalls, and the actions of a liberal activist Federal judge interested in bringing better care for prisoners in the State prison system. Governor Brown, despite his early pledges of not kicking State issues down to local government has embraced the transfer of prisoners to County jails. This is very shortsighted and other alternatives are not being considered due to political influences.
The recent hours only incarceration of Hollywood celebrities involved in shoplifting and drunk driving cases underscores the limited time that suspects serve in County jails. This is making a mockery of the criminal justice system.
Additionally, the State parole system has dropped the supervision of thousands of paroles. Prisoners are being released under totally unsupervised parole. The net result of these prisoner releases will be higher crime rates and more violence towards law abiding citizens in our local communities.
10-15-11 Incumbent Mayor Nancy Tragarz, Councilmembers Joaquin Lim and Tony Cartagena announced plans to run for re-election in 2012. Walnut resident Michael West and Lim have formed recipient committees to begin raising money for the April Walnut Municipal Election. Mr. West has previously run for the Walnut City Council and the Walnut Valley Unified School District. He failed to get elected in either election.
9-14-11 Walnut has been named by LA County Assessor John Noguez as the community with the largest increase in property values in Los Angeles County despite the current regional depressed economy.
9-7-11 The Audits and Investigation section of the California Department of Transportation again found the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) to be a "High Risk" agency due to again finding a conflict of interest by it's Executive Director, Nick Conway. Conway also owns the management company for the Council of Governments. The final audit report found inadequate procurement processes, grant management, contract management, and financial management systems. This is the second audit which Conway has failed, and his continued contractural agreement with the SGVCOG places all communities who are members of the organization at possible risk. CALTRANS is requesting repayment of $89,262 of unsupported costs submited by Conway in violation of State and Federal regulations.
On a unreleated matter, former SGVCOG vice president Sharon Martinez, a former councilwoman from Monterey Park plead guilty to forgery involving a campaign piece which forged her opponent's signature. She was sentenced to three years probation.
8-21-11 The City of Walnut has again been named as the best small town in California by CNN Money Magazine. This is the second year in a row that Walnut has earned this honor.
6-23-11 Cathe Wilson, former mayor of Temple City was sentenced to four years in prison for bribery and perjury involving her attempts to shake down a real estate developer. Wilson was removed from the courtroom after displaying breathing problems. Kudos to the District Attorney Public Integrity Unit for nailing another corrupt politician.
6-22-11 The Walnut City Council elected Nancy Tragarz as Mayor and Mary Su as Mayor Pro Tem in a Council reorganization. Best wishes to both in the coming year.
6-13-11 At the end of June, I am ending my term as President of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments after two years. I have recently stirred some controversy, as I believe reforms are deeply needed to cut the cost to cities who are members in this organization.
The proposed June 16 SGVCOG budget included a nearly $300,000 income for Executive Director Nick Conway, owner of Arroyo Associates, the contract management firm. This comes just three months after he alleged to me he made only $133,000 in compensation from Arroyo Associates. Executive Director Conway, who is now seeking a PERS pension, appears to be setting himself up for a lucrative public retirement pension. The salary of any future Executive Director of the COG should be capped at $100,000 with minimal benefits.
The proposed SGVCOG budget grossly understates potential liabilities for increased legal costs and consultant services to defend the SGVCOG and Conway in the ongoing CALTRANS audit. Last month, SGVCOG legal fees were 400% over budget.
Conway continues to run the COG as a private business and arrogantly ignores oversight. This has to stop.
The budget does not include any projected costs for a contract manager who will be hired or placed under contract to review the proposed procedures. The SGVCOG budget does anticipate substantial revenue from a number of grant programs, two of which require Board approvals at the June 16 Governing Board Meeting.
The budget indicates that without substantial income from the grant programs, Arroyo would incur a loss of almost $165,000 for its work to operate the SGVCOG.
Most importantly, the proposed budget does not include any reserve account for the possible reimbursement that could be due CALTRANS for the return of grant funds. The Cities will be looked to for return of any of this money as it is not budgeted for in 2011/12. The SGVCOG should instead look to Arroyo Associates for any reimbursement costs due to CALTRANS.
The Executive Director is moving forward with negotiating and signing agreements for grants where he has a clear fiduciary interest. These grants are for considerable amounts of money. In view of the discussion of hiring a grants administrator, it would be prudent to remove Conway from negotiating, contracting or signing these grants.
The continued use of Conway and Arroyo Associates is a legal liability for the SGVCOG and member cities. I hope those attending the COG Governing Board meeting will take close look at these liabilities for our Cities under the existing management services agreement prior to approving the proposed budget.
5-21-11 The City of Torrance holds the largest Armed Forces Day parade in the Western United States every year. The parade honored mebers of the the 442nd Combat Infantry group. These Japanese American units suffered an unprecedented casualty rate of 314 percent and received over 18,000 individual decorations. Many were awarded after their deaths for bravery and courage in the field of battle. Among the decorations received by the 100th/442nd soldiers were one Medal of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 28 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Silver Star, 4,000 Bronze Stars and 1,200 Oak Leaf Clusters to the Bronze Star and, perhaps most telling of the sacrifices made by these gallant soldiers, 9,486 Purple Hearts. The 442nd Combat Infantry group emerged as the most decorated combat unit of its size in the history of the United States Army. For its service in eight major campaigns in Italy and France, the 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team earned eight Presidential Unit Citations.
Council member King, as a member of the California State Military Reserve had the honor and privledge of leading the Color Guard honoring these very special veterans. They ranged in age of 85 to 100 years young.
5-1-11 Acting in his role as President of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, Council Member King formally requested the State Department of Transportation to immediately release a confidential audit of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) by the California Department of Transportation. (CALTRANS). Shortly after becoming SGVCOG President two years ago, he learned that the SGVCOG was at "high risk status" after failing an audit several years ago.
A follow up audit was conducted by CALTRANS for a Grant Program administered by the COG. The audit was to determine compliance with the settlement of the prior audit, and compliance with Federal and State grant administration policies. The follow-up audit covered a period prior to Council Member King becoming SGVCOG President.
The follow-up audit results languished in Sacramento for over a year without release to the SGVCOG Board of Governors. It is anticipated that review and release of the information in the audit will lead to very much needed reforms in the SGVCOG. The SGVCOG has remained at "high risk" for the last five years, and that status is unacceptable for continued participation in this organization by the City of Walnut.
4-27-11 The Walnut City Council failed to respond to a deadline to combine the next Municipal Election with the County of Los Angeles. The Cost for the City to administer the election is estimatd to be $97,465 and the cost for the County to administer the election is estimated at $59,000. In 2008 the County reimbursed the City for some of the cost of the election in the amount of $52,000. However, the City has not received $64,000 in reimbursable costs for the 2010 eiection. It is unknown if the reimbusement for 2010 and the amounts in the next election will be reimbursed due to the State fiscal situation.
Having the City run the election also costs the City tens of thousands of dollars in employee costs who are tied up several months in administering and canvasing the election. Council member King is adamately opposed to the in-house handling of the election. The City Council is considering cutting a law enforcement employee who handles traffic violations and fingerprinting in the next budget. Savings for sending the election to the County could help preserve that law enforcement postion.
4-13-11 Meadowpass Road opened today! Councilman King has been advocating for the opening of this road since 1988. Much of the Credit for completing these missing links go to Margie King. She spend untold hours passing out flyers, obtaining signatures, and mobilizing the community. The 23 year delay in opening the road increased the overall cost ten fold. Critics of the road attended the grand opening ceremony and acknowledged the quality stream rebuilding. Construction of the project had been delayed by an endangered bird called the "Bells Least Vireo." Ironically the bird returned to the spot it had been before just before the ceremony.
3-16-11 Councilman Tom King traveled to Washington DC to advocate for transportation projects for the San Gabriel Valley. As President of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and a member of the Alameda Corridor Construction Authority he met with the San Gabriel Valley Caucus. Meetings were held with Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressmembers Adam Schiff, David Dreier, and Grace Napalitano. Meetings were also held with the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Transportation. While in DC, Councilmember King and his family visited the Vietnam Wall, Korean and World War II memorial and the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The trip for Councilmember King was paid for by the San Gabriel Valley Council of governments. Family expenses were by the councilmember.
Paying Respects at the Vietnam Wall
3-14-11 Councilman Tom King was appointed to the Board of Directors of Whittier Presbyterian Hospital.
1-15-11 Same old Story: Governor seeks to nulify will of voters endorsement of Proposition 22, stopping shift of local funds.
Newly elected Governor Jerry Brown has chosen to continue the past practice of looking for loopholes to take local revenues to fund a State budget that is out of balance. Despite the overwhelming support of the voters in passing Proposition 22, to stop theft of local money, the governor has proposed dismantling local redevelopment agencies. This continues the practice of passing the big spending budget deficits in Sacramento down to local government.
Brown’s proposal will destroy billions of dollars in local economic activity and eliminate thousands of jobs. Redevelopment agencies provide affordable housing and are responsible for infill urban development. Redevelopment agencies support over 300,000 full and part time jobs, and are involved in 170,000 construction jobs. These agencies contribute 40 billion dollars to California’s economy annually and have increased the State’s construction activities by nineteen billion dollars.
Cities are required to comply with housing mandates sponsored by SB375 and the State’s controversial AB32 Sustainable Communities Strategy Plans. The governor’s proposal takes away local tools to comply with these laws. Twenty percent of property tax revenues are required to deal with affordable housing. In a slight of hand, the proposal passes this requirement to local govenments, and takes away the funding source.
The State of California is over one hundred fifty billion dollars in debt, and unable to sell over fifty billion dollars in debt due to its’ poor credit rating. The structural deficit of the State is unmanageable, and will not be fixed without adopting simple budgeting strategies.
Until the State government adopts policies of requiring a funding source for all mandates, spending less than revenues, succeeding generations of Californian's face a crushing debt.
1-11-11 Council member Tom King attended a luncheon honoring Staff Sergeant Salvatore Guinta, America's first living Medal of Honor recipeint since the Viet Nam war and his comrade, Staff Sgt. Eric Gallardo, Silver Star recipeint both of whom showed extraordinary heroism in rescuing a fallen soldier in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan.
1-8-11 Condolences to the families affected by the Tucson incident. Our prayers are with Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford and her family, as well as everyone touched by this tragedy.
1-1-11 Best Wishes for a Prosperous and Happy New Year.
12-20-10 The Alameda Corrider East Construction Authority recently completed the railway grade separation on Valley Boulevard, at Sunset and Orange Avenues in the City of Industry. This section allows uninterupted traffic to flow between Rowland Heights and the City of La Puente.
The Authority is studying adding Fairway at Valley and Lemon and Valley to the second phase of the project. Fairway is one of the highest priorty grade separations, and Lemon is scheduled to have freeway access to the 60 freeway in the future. The intersections have challenges due to flood control and the configurations of the intersections. Fairway is the scene of numerous accidents involving freight trains. The use of a flyover separation similar to the Sunset project would eliminate both Lemon Avenue and Fairway as railroad crossings. A flyover has extensive landscaping to shield grafitti and a rail skirt to cut noise of passing trains. Council member Tom King serves on the Alameda Corrider East Construction Authority Board.
12-1-10 The California High Speed Rail Authority officially moved into status as the biggest boondogle in the State of California. The Authority is spending four billion dollars to put in a high speed rail line near the City of Borden in the Central Valley. There will be no passengers carried, no electricity for trains, in fact no trains at all. The State will build stations and lay 65 miles of track which will sit idle hoping that 45 Billion can be found to fund the rest of the system. The well marketed high speed rail plan is running into stiff opposition by communities which are facing eminent domain from the Authority to run trains which will actually run at speeds similar to MetroLink in highly densly populated areas. The authority is an example of government programs sold to the voters by special interests with little consideration of the practicality of the project. In the mean time, the governor elect has reported to legislators, that the California structural deficit is much worse than he thought, though his office is in the same building as the sitting governor.
11-19-10 Councilmember Tom King was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Business Administration by California Intercontinental University of Diamond Bar. The School is ranked as the number one online University in the United States.
10-4-10 In a move reminiscent of the Weimar Republic of Germany, the US Federal Reserve began printing 800 billion in new dollars to magically end the financial downturn of the economy. The result will be an approximate 20 percent reduction in value of the US Dollar which will likely lead to increased inflation in the future. It remains to be seen if the additional money stimulates business, or simply weakens the buying power of consumers.
10-3-10 The State election has given control of the California to the Democratic Party. With a strong majority in both houses of the State Legislature, and the ability to pass a budget with a simple majority vote, Democrats will no longer be able to blame Republicans for the mess in Sacramento. They own it outright. Republicans will now be limited to the sidelines, only able to challenge tax increases. The question remains if the new Governor has the courage to limit the big spenders in Sacramento. Additionally it appears that an Attorney General who refuses to seek the death penalty mst give some comfort for those remaining on death row.
The ability of the State to steal local tax revenues has been hit hard with the passage of Proposition 22. The legislature still requires a 2/3 vote to raise taxes. It will be interesting to see how the politicians in Sacramento will work their way around the limitations on raids of city funds.
The open primary and the redistricting of both local and federal districts will likely bring reform to much of California's problems and bring in a new crop of elected officials who will replaced termed out legislators in gerrymandered districts. There is still hope for California.
9-13-10 The US Justice Department sued the City of Walnut saying that the actions of the Planning Commission in denying a increased sized Zen Center on Marcon Way violated provisions of Federal Law.
The applicant did not appeal the decision and moved their center to the City of Pomona.
9-8-10 The City of Walnut re-organized, naming Antonio Cartagena, Mayor, and Nancy Tragarz, Mayor Pro Tem
9-5-09 Mayor Tom King traveled to the City of Calamba, Laguna, in the Republic of the Philippines as part of the sister city cultural exchange program. Mayor King was met by Mayor Joaquin Chipeco, Jr. and members of the Calamba City Council and staff. A briefing was held for city staff and a seminar was included for members of the Philippine National Police.
The Philipine people are known for their friendly smile and welcomed the Mayor in a traditional Filipino hospitality.
8-30-10 Mayor Tom King will accompany members of the Walnut-Calamba Sister City program to Calamba, Laguna, Republic of the Philippines for a cultural exchange program. This sister city program is locally funded without any local government funds. The delegation will return to the United States on September 11th. The City Council will reorganize on September 8th, and a new mayor and mayor pro tem will will be sworn into office.
8-25-10 Mayor Tom King officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Meadowpass Road Project. This culminates an objective of opening this portion of the General Plan underway since 1988.
6-29-10 On Tuesday, June 6. 2010 the Mayor Tom King will accompany Congress members Judy Chu and Grace Napolitano on an aerial tour of the San Gabriel Valley with Joel Szabate, US Department of Transportation Undersecretary. The tour will be to get a close up of the congestion caused by the Port of Los Angeles and to evaluate the effects of the 710 Freeway gap in Alhambra and South Pasadena. The tour is being coordinated by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the Gateway Cities Council of Government.
5-27-10 At a MTA board meeting Mayor Tom King, acting in his capacity of the President of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments testified in favor of completing the 4.5 mile gap in the Long Beach Freeway. The MTA Board of Directors then voted to move forward with the Environmental Impact Report for a CALTRANS recommended tunnel project. This project will provide needed support for traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in the valley.
5-21-10 The City of Walnut has been notified by the State Controller that they expect the City to pay over five million dollars in excess tax increments from Walnut's Redevelopment funds. The State alleges that Walnut receives twenty two million dollars in redevelopment funds from the County of Los Angeles.
Both the County of Los Angeles and Walnut staff advised the State Controller that Walnut only receives four million in tax increments and the rest goes directly to the County of Los Angeles. Beyond the four million, no other amount is ever in the possession of the City of Walnut. The four million dollars goes to pay bonded indebtedness incurred while incorporating the City. This fact is not understood by the faceless, big spending politicians that continue to spend California into oblivion in Sacramento.
Mayor Tom King has endorsed Meg Whitman for Governor of California.
5-20-10 Mayor Tom King was unanimously elected as president of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) by the Mayors of the San Gabriel Valley. The SGCVOG represents 34 Cities, several water agencies and parts of three Los Angeles County Supervisory districts from La Canada-Flintridge to Claremont, and from Pomona to Monterey Park. This encompasses 1/4 of Los Angeles County.
4-28-10 Council member Mary Su and Mayor Tom King were sworn in for a four year term after winning the recent Walnut City Council Election.
4-21-10 Mayor Tom King and members of the San Gabriel Council of Governments met with the California Public Utilities Commission to seek support and cooperation on issues of mutual benefit. One item advocated was for continued support for natural gas vehicles in California. Much hype and advocacy has been put forth for electric vehicles, but CNG remains a cheap, readily available source of fuel in Southern California. Much of the mobile sources of pollution in the basin could be eliminated by permitting cheaper CNG conversions of older vehicles to less expensive clean burning natural gas.
CNG remains a transition fuel for hydrogen and other alternative fuel technologies. Due to California Air Resources Board regulations, conversions costs upwards of $8000 in California. Elsewhere they can be done for approximately $1500. Natural gas can be bought for as little as 60 cents a gallon in some States, and gasoline or diesel engines are easily converted to run on CNG.
4-16-10 Los Angeles County CEO William T. Fujioka presented the Los Angeles County Budget to the LA County Board of Supervisors. The revised budget includes significant reductions in services, including libraries. The Walnut Library will experience no reduction in hours of operation. 80% of the operations costs of the Walnut Library come from property tax assessments.
4-13-10 Preliminary results from the Walnut Municipal Election show Mayor Tom King and Council Member Mary Su were re-elected by a substantial margin. There are still provisional and absentee votes to be counted, but not enough to change the outcome.
4-6-10 The San Gabriel Valley Tribune and the Pasadena Star News endorsed Mayor Tom King for re-election on Tuesday, April 13, 2010.
3-30-10 Just hours before a trustee sale of the shopping center at Lemon and La Puente Road, the owner of the property filed bankruptcy to stave off a trustee sale of the property. The previous owner is attempting to regain control of the property for non payment of mortgage payments. The bankruptcy does not involve stores or tenants in the shopping center.
3-20-10 Campaign signs are an unfortunate byproduct of election activity. Candidates are smothering properties with signs leading to an unsightly condition. At the same time widespread theft of Tom King signs has occurred. The amount stolen has added up to grand theft, a felony. A five hundred dollar reward exists for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone stealing a campaign sign belonging to Tom King.
In the Snow Creek area, two residents have been identified stealing newspapers off of lawns which carried an unflattering article about the candidate committee they volunteer to help. It is very unfortunate that candidates do not run on their record and resort to illegal activity. The matter is under investigation by the Sheriff. The suspects are high ranking members of a campaign committee.
3-10-10 The Los Angeles County League of Conservation Voters Board unanimously endorsed Mayor Tom King for re-election on April 13th to the Walnut City Council.
3-7-10 The Sierra Club endorsed Mayor Tom King for re-election on April 13th to the Walnut City Council
3-5-10 Judy Wong, council member and former mayor of Temple City resigned to face felony charges of taking thousands of dollars in bribes to vote for a real estate development. According to published reports, Wong laundered the money as political contributions for local State and Federal elected officials. The donations were later returned by the involved candidates. Also facing felony charges in this matter is former Temple City Mayor Kathe Wilson. The District Attorney is aggressively enforcing illegal activity by elected officials and his actions are commendable.
3-3-10 Former Monterey Park Mayor Sharon Martinez has been charged with five felonies and a misdemeanor for arranging a "hit piece" on a fellow council member in a heated election campaign. The District Attorney of Los Angeles County aggressively investigates allegations of laundering of campaign funds, or conspiracies to violate California's strict election reporting laws. If convicted, Martinez could face five years in State prison.
2-18-10 La Puente Mayor Louie Lujan was indicted on one count of perjury for falsely reporting expenditures and expenses related to campaign funds. Elected officials regularly complete forms which list contributions and sign under penalty of perjury that the forms are correct. Failure to comply is a felony.
2-16-10 The Association for Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff's, the largest association of deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators, representing over 8,000 sworn law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County endorsed Mayor Tom King for re-election on April 13th to the Walnut City Council.
2-11-10 The Los Angeles County Fire Fighters Union, Local 1014 representing 3000 Los Angeles County Firefighters endorsed Mayor Tom King for re-election on April 13th to the Walnut City Council.
2-10-10 The Walnut City Council vote 5-0 to put the Meadowpass Road project out to bid. This culminates an effort that has been underway since 1988 to complete this portion of the Walnut General Plan. Some local residents along the right-of-way vigorously objected to the project. As a compromise, the roadway will be limited to two lanes. The existing creek will be restored to a riparian habitat, in cooperation with the San Gabriel Valley Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. It is anticipated that construction will commence in September after an endangered species is not nesting in the area. It is hoped that this project will be a win-win for the community and decrease emergency response times.
2-9-10 Mayor Tom King of Walnut received the endorsements of Los Angeles County Supervisors Don Knabe and Mike Antonovich for re-election.
2-8-10 The Braille Institute, in Anaheim has been added to the permitted destinations of the Walnut Dial-A-Cab to better serve sight impaired residents of Walnut. In addition, patrons needing to go to dialysis should contact the City of Walnut to ascertain if their treatment center can be covered by Dial-A-Ride services. Call 909 595-7543 and speak to Deputy City Manager Chuck Robinson to inquire.
2-5-10 Mayor Tom King attended the annual installation dinner of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, San Gabriel Valley Chapter in Monterey Park. The organization is one of the oldest civil rights organizations in California. Mayor King, and his wife Margie were guests of John Wong, Chairperson of the Assessment Appeals Board of Los Angeles County and founder of the San Gabriel Valley Chapter.
Mayor Tom King has received the endorsements of all key Democratic and Republican leaders in the San Gabriel Valley. Congresswoman Judy Chu (D), Assembly member Mike Eng (D), and Assembly member Ed Hernandez (D) endorsed Mayor King for re-election. These endorsements round out a bipartisan endorsement by the leadership the San Gabriel Valley leglislative caucus by Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R) , and Senator Bob Huff. (R) A city council position is non partisan in the City of Walnut.
The San Gabriel Valley is one of the few places in California where the bipartisan leadership works together. Their cooperation on local transit issues has lead to a recent unprecedented amount of transportation dollars coming into the San Gabriel Valley.
The Walnut High School Chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America toured Walnut City Hall with Mayor Tom King They were shown various departments of the City government and learned the educational requirements necessary to work in various postions in City government.
2-5-10 Former Pico Rivera Mayor Ron Bielke was indicted today. The 50-year-old former mayor faces one felony count each of conflict of interest and perjury by declaration, two misdemeanor counts of accepting a gift in excess of the legal value and four misdemeanor counts of conflict of interest.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney alleges that Beilke, who was on the Pico Rivera City Council from 2005 to 2009, voted to approve three contracts for construction work in an intersection immediately adjacent to his privately owned Wienerschnitzel franchise. He also allegedly was involved in negotiations at the time with the developer of the adjacent commercial property to lease space to open a coffee shop.
The very same laws that Bielke violated applied in Mayor Tom King not being able to participate in the NFL stadium project issue due to the fact he loaned $60,000 to his son to buy a condo one block from the stadium site. The State Fair Political Practices Commission issued a formal written opinion prohibiting King from participating in the discussion.
1-31-10 Since this website was started a few years ago, it has been very successful in stopping false rumors deliberately spread around the community. The latest false and misleading statement concerns an allegation that private LOSMD property could be taken from private homeowners, in order to widen Valley Boulevard.
Valley Boulevard is NOT going to be widened, and there are no plans by the City of Walnut, the City of Industry or Los Angeles County to widen the road, or take LOSMD maintained property from Walnut Residents.
Another deliberate falsehood being promoted is that there are plans to remove homes or businesses in Walnut for Alameda Corider East (ACE) grade crossing projects in the City of Walnut. There are no viable plans at the present time to put a grade crossing project in Walnut. The next ACE project will be at Nogales, at Gale in the City of Industry.
There will NEVER be a sound wall constructed in the City of Industry on Union Pacific Property. The City of Industry will not build it, the City of Walnut will not pay for it, and the railroad will not permit it. Walnut does not have the funds to do it, and none would accept the liability.
Abraham Lincoln once said. "No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar."
1-28-10 Mayor Tom King announced that discussions between the City of Industry and the City of Walnut has resulted in an agreement to complete the long awaited quiet zone along the Valley Boulevard corider of the railroad in Industry. The project had been stalled as a result of the litigation between the two cities regarding the NFL stadium project. The final construction of crossing upgrades are underway, and the City of Industry will now be formally asking the Federal rail authorities to implement the quiet zone. This has been a long process and the train horn noise has been unbearable for Walnut residents. With increased trains anticipated from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, trains are expected to increase up to four times the current amount.
1-27-09 Mayor Tom King, acting in his capacity of the President of the 34 member San Gabriel Council of Governments testified before the MTA Board in Los Angeles. Backed by a group of San Gabriel Valley Council members, business leaders and labor representatives, King testified as to the need to approve a study to determine the feasibility of a public-private partnership to determine the financial impact of completing the Long Beach Freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena.
Recently, a number of alternative routes have been proposed, including completing the tunnel to Eagle Rock, Glendale and even Irwindale. King reminded the board that 32 of the 34 member cities in the SGV support a direct conection between the two segments of the freeway.
The MTA board voted to approve the request 7-1. The Enviromental Review Process will determine the enviromental challenges of constructing the tunnel project. The San Gabriel Valley is at long last getting its fair share of the financial support for transportation projects.
Phase 2 of the Gold Line light rail line from Pasadena to Azusa Avenue commences construction in June. A second proposal to extend the southern Gold Line from East Los Angeles to the 605 freeway in Pico Rivera is gaining momentum. It is hoped that both segments will some day reach Ontario airport.
1-25-10 California's bond rating declined again in response to a prediction the State of California could run out of cash in March. The legislature and the Governor in Sacramento continue to "re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic" without addressing the fundamental concept of simply spending less than you earn. The problem with the State is not just the alleged 20 billion dollar budget shortfall (which has been consistently underestimated by the State politicians). It is also the crushing debt of the State which is close to 200 billion dollars. Close to fifty billion of that debt cannot even be sold due to the State's bond rating. The elected officials in Sacramento continue to kick the can down the road to local government and refuse to face the problems they have created.
The State has been sued to stop the outright theft of local funds and the State has consistently lost these cases in court. But the Governor is refusing to cut loose funds that were ordered by courts to be returned to local government agencies. And the politicians in Sacramento continue to jump from one state agency to another to fatten their State pensions.
1-13-10 Last month the Walnut Planning Commision approved a massage business in the Von's shopping center. Two Planning Commissioners were absent. It is unusual for the Commission to act on this type of business approval without all five Commissioners being present. One Commissioner added to the number of therapists allowed on the property, and lengthened suggested review periods of the application. This was an uncommon action by a Commission.
I immediately appealed the Planning Commission decision to the City Council for review. The Council refused to even hear the appeal. A second issue was a request for a 45 day freeze on similar businesses until a review could be made as to modifications to the conditional use permit. It was also turned down by the City Council. I maintain this was an extremely poor decision. There was some apparent confusion by the Council and I will be reintroducing this again.
Businesses of this nature should be required to have a Doctor, Chiropractic Practitioner, or Physical Therapist on staff. The applicant admitted that her business has in the past received improper solicitations. She claimed she would prevent this, though she lives a great distance from Walnut. Walnut has had a bad track record with these businesses. Legitimate businesses can fail, and the location can be replaced with a less than desirable replacement.
The Council did not even second my request to put a measure on the April ballot moving the election to November and under the control of the County Registrar Recorder. The Council majority likes the current locally run election. The Council agreed to stop the practice of emailing real time processing of absentee ballots, thus lowering the chance of fraud. The Council also agreed to sealing the mail drop box at the front of City Hall to stop the illegal depositing of unposted absentee ballots.
The City Council chambers contained numerous residents who attended to support my position. The Council majority disagreed with us.
1-6-10 The Walnut Valley Water District has taken a step in the wrong direction to address the artificially created hike in state water prices. In response to increased costs from the MWD the district is proposing up to 185% price increases to large residential customers while raising customers of business and apartment buildings a 20% rate increase.
This rate increases costs are disproportionate to Walnut residences which by design are larger and require modest amounts of water to irrigate. The Walnut Valley Water District signed off on the building of these residences years ago, and promised to provide water service. Yet the District continues to say it can meet the need of business and other growth but unfairly charges Walnut residents a higher tiered fee. The District intends on charging different rates based on the elevation of the home served. The rate increase is just plain unfair and unequal.
I have written the Distinct to express my lack of support for these tiered rate increases. I am asking the Walnut City Council to show up with their neighbors at the Water Board Meeting on February 18th at 6:00 PM to show our concern. Residents are strongly encouraged to attend. The meeting is held at the AQMD Building 21865 Copley Dr, Diamond Bar, CA 91765. District 1 Board Member Allen Wu, representing the City of Walnut did not support this rate increase as presently proposed.
1-4-10 A recent news article misstated that the Walnut City Council intends on removing restrictions on height to allow for construction of hotels, apartment buildings or other high rise construction to capitalize on the NFL Stadium Project which is being constructed on the border of Diamond Bar and the City of Industry.
The article is false, misleading and a deliberate misrepresentation of fact. No such modification of the 35 foot height restriction on building Walnut has been proposed. The fraudulent article is a complete fabrication of fact.
1-2-10 Meadowpass Road is slowly moving towards construction. The project has been delayed by the slow action on permits from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Two small parcels had to be acquired from property owners and the process for the permits and property condemnation should be completed by the end of this month. The Federal permits may limit construction during the months of February to September to protect an endangered species of bird that recently nested in the area.
It is anticipated that the project will be put out to bid in February and actual construction could be delayed as late as September because of Federal restrictions.
In a related matter, the retention basin, at the S/W corner of Meadowpass Road and Amar Road has become clogged with vegetation. This has allowed an endangered species to occupy the area. The Fish and Wildlife Service is blocking the City of Walnut from clearing this basin to protect the endangered species. This however creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes and West Nile Virus. Residents are encouraged to contact Mosquito Vector Control at (626) 814-9466.
It is hoped that the health concerns of this issue will allow the clearance of this important drainage system. If the system were compromised due to vegetation, downstream homes could be damaged. Hopefully the critter will move and not be inconvienced by the new more suitable habitat coming with the roadway.
12-10-09 In 1947, Mrs. Diane Hendricks, wife of Major Bill Hendricks, USMC Reserves, made a "Ragitty Anne" doll and gave it to her husband with instructions to give the toy to a poor child. Her unselfish action led to the creation of Toys For Tots, an annual Christmas program of the USMC Reserves. The Regional Chamber of the San Gabriel Valley held a toy drive to support this program. The toys were given to the Marines at a local event graciously sponsored by the Regional Chamber.
12-9-09 A taxpayer group with a very long name, "Citizens for Free and Fair Elections, A Committee to Increase Voter Turnout by Consolidating Walnut City Elections with November General Elections" has been formed and filed papers to collect contributions in Walnut. While their name is lengthy, their objective is not. The group seeks to consolidate the City elections with those run by the County of Los Angeles.
The City of Walnut has wasted over $100,000 per election in the past decade running its own elections. In addition, Walnut has a legally questionable practice of accepting un-postmarked absentee ballots at the mail slot in the front door of City Hall and emailing a list of daily absentee ballots processed to Council candidates. The mail box slot was utiilized after committees unlawfully attempted to bring bulk numbers of ballots into the City Clerk's office. An absentee ballot can only be brought into the clerk by a relative of the voter.
The net result of this practice is that campaigns for City Council in Walnut have changed from the days of a housewife running from her kitchen for election to massive headquarters, with staff, phone banks and budgets pushing $100,000. Much of the money raised is from out of the City of Walnut, and in some cases, incredibly long distances from the City of Walnut The City has received written and verbal complaints that members of zealous committees actually pick up or assist voters with their absentee ballots.
I wholeheartedly support this groups' objective and will assist them anyway in their strategy of bringing fair and equitable voting back to Walnut. I will be proposing some reforms in the next few weeks to assist in that goal.
11-25-09 Tom King was re-appointed Mayor of Walnut. The oath of office was administered by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. Also in attendance at the ceremony was Sheriff Lee Baca.
11-23-09 The California High Speed Rail Project is in the early formative stages. This electrified rail line will run from San Diego to San Francisco. A portion will run through the San Gabriel Valley. Two routes are under consideration. One potential route runs down the San Bernardino Freeway, and the other runs near the 60 Freeway in the City of Industry. Cal Poly Pomona is one of several sites being considered for an Inland Empire station to be located. The rail project will begin in San Diego at Lindberg Field, traverse San Bernardino, Ontario Airport, and continue on to Los Angeles and to San Fransisco. Another branch will start in Anaheim, and lead to Los Angeles and beyond.
It is not known which route will be taken by the rail authority. The Obama administration has indicated a high interest in this high speed rail system, and the high potential exists for the construction of this project. The project calls for complete grade separations from roadways and arterial highways.
It would be prudent to combine this project with lowering other local rail lines to reduce noise and other impacts from these rail projects. Since I sit on the Alameda Corider East Construction Authority, I will use whatever influence I have to coordinate the grade crossings needed with mitigating current rail traffic and noise.
11-17-09 California's home price decline has not drastically affected the sales price of homes in the City of Walnut. The average price for a home in the City of Walnut increased 13.6 percent during the month of September 2009.
11-11-09 Today is Veterans Day. A few people greeted me with "Happy Veterans Day." That greeting made me think of my late father who served on the Destroyer USS Hutchins in World War II. The ship lived a storied history throughout World War II, from the Aleutians to the South Pacific. Thanks and Happy Veterans Day to my brother Terry who served proudly as a United States Marine in South Vietnam. Freedom is never free.
The Walnut City Council meeting schedule has been modified by the Mayor this month. The Council will meet in regular session on November 18th. The Mayoral rotation is scheduled for November 25th, 2009 at six PM. Mayor Pro Tem Tom King is scheduled to be sworn in as Mayor at that time.
11-2-09 For the last year, Mayor King has participated in the United States Army Los Angeles Community Advisory Board. The purpose of this board is to assist the US Army in obtaining qualified candidates for military service. The United States Army is aggressively seeking educated, career minded individuals to serve as officers and enlisted soldiers.
As a result of this coordinated effort, the US Army has exceeded it's goals in recruitment, and deployment of active duty soldiers from our area. 537 active duty personnel, a 124% increase to mission goals, and 54 reserves have committed to Army service in the last quarter. In the last year 1924 active duty, and 400 reserve soldiers have enlisted due to this program. We can be extremely proud of our young people who serve in the defense of freedom from this region. There is no greater honor than the proud service in the military service of this country.
11-1-09 During the last couple of years, I have enjoyed using this website to inform residents of what is actually going on in Walnut. It originally was started to inform residents of important issues in the community. Since I vote on those issues, I obviously want to present my perspective on things. But I do not doubt the sincerity and intent of those who disagree with me on some issues. We all love this community, and one of the hundreds of weekly visitors sent me a link to a video on the City of Walnut. The video is entitled, Walnut, My Kind of Town. Here is the link, and for the one or two daily visitors from outside of the USA, it shows why we love this community so much:
10-30-09 Transportation remains the most important issue to residents in Walnut and throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Walnut residents statistically have a higher commute than many other cities in the region.
On October 22, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors voted to adopt the 2009 Long-Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), a plan which allocates $271.2 billion over the next 30 years for transportation projects across the our County. This document provides a blueprint for Los Angeles County as it moves forward in addressing our transportation needs and challenges of the 21st Century.
This County-wide plan also allocates the nearly $40 billion in funds that are anticipated to be raised through Measure R, the County-wide sales tax measure that was passed by voters in November 2008. From the San Gabriel Valley’s perspective, our representatives on this governing body, which include Supervisors Antonovich, Molina, and Knabe, and City of Duarte Mayor John Fasana, were successful in creating a cross-county partnership with other members the Board that resulted in the accomplishment of long-sought-after and major objectives for our Valley’s projects.
Some of the new successes for our San Gabriel Valley include:
The Gold Line Foothill Extension: Our San Gabriel Valley representatives secured over $700 million in funding for the extension of this light rail line, which currently travels from downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena. We now anticipated that this project, which will initially extend from Pasadena to either Azusa or Glendora, will be operational as early as 2013.
Regional Connector: This project will directly connect the Gold Line in downtown Los Angeles to the Blue Line and other light rail lines, significantly reducing wait times by up to twenty minutes for our residents that utilize these lines. The Metro Board adopted this project as one of its two priorities for Federal funding, and we hope that it can be completed as early as 2019
The Alameda Corridor-East Project (ACE): This multi-phased construction project creates grade separations and other safety improvements along the Union Pacific Rail Road. The Valley’s representatives were able to secure $400 million in funding for this project, which will allow this project to be completed on time, by 2017.
The 710 Tunnel Project: Metro, working with our cities, continues to work to develop a strategy to close the 4 mile gap in the 710 freeway. The Valley’s representatives were successful in securing funding for needed environmental work to address the concerns of affected residents and community members while at the same time developing a regional transportation solution.
These new projects are in addition to existing transportation projects including the SR-60 carpool lane completion, which is currently under construction, the I-10 carpool lane completion, which is scheduled to break ground in a few weeks, and the 10/605 interchange, a major construction project that will be underway in a few years.
As the President of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, I look forward to this new chapter in which we undertake major transportation infrastructure projects to alleviate congestion, create jobs, and improve the environment.
These improvements to our San Gabriel Valley transportation system show the benefits of collaborating with elected officials on a regional basis. This is a significant accomplishment, and will provide a path for more transportation improvements in the next thirty years.
10-29-09 The Meadowpass road connection moved forward with the Council decision to acquire the right of way for the connector. The Council voted 4-0 (Mayor Mary Su abstaining) to purchase the right of way from the absentee landlords owning the property.
The Council also voted to hold a municipal election in April 2009. Mayor King opposed this election as a stand alone election costing the taxpayers an additional $150,000 instead of combining it with a county election. This expense has been growing for the last ten years and is a complete waste of taxpayer money. Every year "Somebody" agrees with me that we need to give this job to the Registrar-Recorder of the County; nothing ever happens.
This problem is common in government and bureaucracy. It is another story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There is an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done. So the election is going to cost us a $150,000 of your taxpayer dollars. I hope someone blames Somebody.
The current municipal election has a controversial process of sending emails to candidates listing absentee ballots mailed out and processed as votes. In addition, the mail slot at city hall is left as a drop off place for un-mailed ballots, instead of requiring them to be filed with a clerk or election official at a polling place. The ballots might as well be left in a box across the street from City Hall, as unscrupulous individuals harvest these ballots and commit voter fraud by picking up ballots from under doormats or sending runners to "assist" voters at home.
10-25-09 Property tax bills arrived in Los Angeles County during the last few days. They have been accompanied by a fraudulent mailing disguised as a tax bill. The letter, from a organized crime organization calling itself HOMEOWNER PROPERTY TAX REVIEW BOARD Tax Reduction Review Division includes a bill for $189.00 to apply for a reduction of the assessed valuation of a home owner tax bill. This mailing is no less than a criminal attempt to trick home owners into sending money for something that is provided for free by the County Assessor. The fraud is widespread in California and Arizona, and the Attorney Generals of both states are scrambling to bring these people to justice. This organized crime syndicate uses mail drops and post office boxes, and does not produce the services which they advertise. It is a scam, nothing less.
10-22-09 In a ceremony at the NFL stadium site, the Governor signed the exemption to the Stadium-Entertainment Complex legislation ending the CEQA challenges to the project. It turns out this was ceremonial, and he signed the actual bill last week. It is anticipated that legal challenges will be mounted against this bill, funded in part by environmental groups, or by third parties competing with Majestic Realty trying to compete for a NFL team.
10-20-09 Most people are satisfied with local government. However, their opinion of State Government is at a record low. A Statewide coalition which includes the League of California Cities, of local government, transportation and public transit leaders filed an initiative ballot measure -- called the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act -- with the California Attorney General's office. The coalition is working to have this measure placed on the statewide ballot for November 2010.
The measure, if passed by voters, would close loopholes and prevent the state from borrowing, raiding or otherwise redirecting local government (local taxes, property taxes, redevelopment), transportation (HUTA and Prop. 42 funds) and public transit funds.
More than 300 city officials participated in a historic summit this summer with more than 200 county and school board officials to focus on the need for state governance and fiscal reform. Summit participants selected "Local Revenue Protection" as the highest reform priority.
No one can doubt the need for this measure after the state came dangerously close to stealing $1 billion in local gas tax revenues and actually did borrow $2 billion in local property taxes, seize billions in redevelopment agency funds and take $697 million of transit funds.
The measure would close loopholes to prevent the taking of local taxpayer funds currently dedicated to cities, counties and special districts. It would also revoke the state's authority to borrow local government property tax funds or divert local redevelopment funds.
It will finally prohibit the State from taking, borrowing or redirecting local taxpayer funds dedicated to public safety, emergency response and other vital local government services (including redevelopment).
It will protect vital, dedicated transportation and public transit funds from state raids
One million signatures are needed to qualify for the November 2001 ballot. With the state continuing to raid and borrow local government, transit and transportation funds, this measure is desperately needed to protect taxpayers and the vital local government and transportation services that support our quality of life and economy.
10-17-09 Despite a very poor economy, the City of Walnut again put money in the bank during the last year. General revenues exceeded expenditures by $1,125,008. The working capitol of the City of Walnut is $35,094,051.
A major construction project is set to begin on Nogales Street on the west border of Walnut. Using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the city will reconstruct the roadway. As this is a "shovel ready project" as defined by this Federal legislation, the City will receive $951,000 in Federal Funds to complete the project. The estimated project cost is $719,000 with a $90,000 professional services agreement. The plan includes a contingency set aside of $231,000.
This is the first of four potential street improvement which will could save Walnut millions of dollars in local revenue. Walnut was helped in applying for this project by the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. Mayor Tom King is the president of that body.
10-16-09 A spokesperson for the Governor announced today that he will likely sign the exemption from further environmental review for the NFL Stadium Entertainment Complex. If the Governor signs the bill, it retroactively ends all litigation currently stopping the project. The governor is expected to sign the legislation next week at the end of the third extraordinary session of the California Legislature.
10-15-09 The California State Senate voted 22-14 to exempt the NFL Stadium Entertainment Project in the City of Industry from further environmental review. Their vote does not become law unless signed by the Governor.
During a study session, the Council majority supported sending out a mailer explaining their actions in settling the NFL stadium-Entertainment Complex issue. Since the item has been adjudicated, they feel it is important to give their side of the issue.
Sending a mailer out after a decision is very unusual. The cost is very high, from $8000 to $10,000. The cost will likely exceed that, as the Council wishes to translations in Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Spanish.
I respectfully do not support this expense as proposed, at a time when the State of California is taking money from the City to support the State's out of control spending. I am hopeful the Council can find a more cost effective manner to explain their actions.
10-12-09 The Walnut City Council meets in closed session Wednesday night to decide to go through with eminent domain to complete the final section of Meadowpass Road. The three property owners were disappointed in the appraisal of their land values for a roadway right of way and creek alignment. The Council will decide to go ahead with the sale of the easements. Construction on the roadway was scheduled to begin in September. It is imperative that construction start very soon to avoid disturbing an endangered species of bird which visits the area.
In a work shop session to be conducted at 6:00 PM, the Council will be deciding to spend $8000 to $10,000 to explain in writing their settlement of the NFL Stadium project lawsuit. It is unusual for a council to justify a mailer defending an action taken after the fact. On occasion, if false or damaging information is being circulated in the community, an informational mailer is distributed to alleviate concerns in the community. The high cost of this mailer will be contrasted with simply placing an announcement in a local paper.
10-10-09 The annual Walnut Family Festival and Parade was held today at Suzanne Park. The annual parade started at LA County Fire Station 61 and ended at the park. The festival was a resounding success and feted the City of Walnut's fiftieth birthday. The program is run by volunteers who work all year getting ready for the event. The festival is an example of why Walnut is the best community in California. The credit for this goes to the residents who put this event on.
10-08-09 A teacher once stated: "The answer for not asking, is an automatic 'no'." The City of Walnut has a program called the home rehabilitation program the provides up to to $7500.00 in grants and $30,000.00 in zero percent deferred loans to eligible low and moderate income residents living in the City of Walnut. While funds are limited, it is important to place one's name on a waiting list for potential residential home improvement upgrades. For a senior on living on a fixed income, or social security, funds can be used for roof replacements, dual pane windows, and other improvements which can lower monthly utility bills.
10-07-09 The Los Angeles County Division of the League of California Cities re-appointed Mayor Tom King to the Statewide Public Safety Policy Committee for the League of California Cities. This appointment allows a regional perspective on public safety to be represented in proposed State legislation.
The Walnut Dial-a-Ride for seniors and the disabled provides one dollar taxi rides in a circle which surrounds the City of Walnut. An expanded coverage is provided for hospitals, and clinics such as the new Kaiser facility at Crossroads Parkway in the City of Industry. Planning on taking a trip via Ontario Airport? The fare is two dollars. You cannot beat the door to ticket counter service provided by the dial-a-ride. Parking prices have increased at the airport, and the dial-a-ride is the most efficient way to save money going to Ontario Airport. Additional passengers can carpool with the dial-a-ride passenger to save the planet. Tipping of the cab operators is encouraged. A return trip home is easily obtained by going to the nearest taxi stand and asking the monitor for a Walnut Dial-A-Ride cab.
10-06-09 Over one hundred fifty local residents and community leaders turned out for a fund raising dinner to honor MTSAC Trustees David Hall and Judy Chen-Haggerty at the Diamond Bar Country Club.
Both the Community College Board, and the local school boards contain extremely competent, dedicated leaders who have helped the City of Walnut become the most desirable community to live in California according to CNN Money Magazine. The outstanding schools, carefully maintained open spaces, and well maintained neighborhoods make Walnut an envy of other communities.
L to R Former Mayor & Councilman Tony Cartegena, Dr. David Hall PhD, Tom King. Judy Chen Haggerty, Cerritos Council memeber Carol Chen & Mayor Burce Barrows, Mrs. Helen Hall, menber of the WVUSD Board of Trustees
10-05-09 The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) has fined former Desert Hot Springs Council Member Hank Hohenstein $18,000.00 for voting on a project that that is located adjacent to his own personal property. The violations occured four years ago.
Hohenstein stated he does not have the money to pay the fine and has requested jail time as an alternative. The FPPC does not accept partial payment for this violation. Hohenstein also risks exposure to criminal action from the Riverside County District Attorney. Hohenstein called the $18,000 penalty excessive and a way for the state to collect more revenue to help close its budget gap.
10-04-09 The local unemployment rate in ZIP Code 91789 climbed to 11 percent. It should be noted that this region includes areas in the City of Industry, unincorporated Los Angeles County and parts of Diamond Bar. The downturn in business activity will have an appreciable affect on the sales tax revenue generated in local business. In the past, the City drew on the experience of an economic development commission to advise the Council on business matters. This commission was disbanded when commercial build out occurred, and the economy was strong. Consideration will be given to re-commissioning the organization.
10-3-09 Local and County Government cannot function without the assistance of community volunteers. A special opportunity exists for community service with the Los Angeles County Grand Jury. A grand jury commitment is a full time job for a period of one year. Anyone wishing to volunteer for this interesting experience should contact Cora Aritzada at (213) 893-1047. A application packet will need to be completed and returned to the LA County Grand Jury by November 30, 2009.
10-02-09 Today was Walnut Day at the Los Angeles County Fair. Members of the Walnut City Council honored Walnut heroes Jeannie Stowell, Kenny Silverberg and Aaron Lam. Jeanie has been involved with the Walnut Valley Womens Club assisting in educational programs and the Walnut food bank for 33 years. Kenny has volunteered at countless City activities and is especially active in the Sharks Swim Team. Aaron is at the forefront of youth activities and volunteers at the Annual Walnut Relay for Life against cancer.
Walnut hero Jeannie Stowell honored at the LA County Fair
Walnut hero Kenny Silverberg congratulated at Walnut Day at the Fair
Walnut Hero Aaron Lam with his very proud family.
10-01-09 Three Valleys Water Board Member Xavier Alvarez was sentenced to five years in prison for insurance fraud, misappropriation of government funds and grand theft.
Shortly after joining the Three Valleys Water Board, Alvarez violated the Federal Theft of Valor Act claiming he was a Medal of Honor winner. Unfortunately for Alvarez, the Board contained veterans who saw that Alvarez lacked the bearing of a military veteran. Alvarez was soon convicted in the theft of valor incident. Shortly thereafter is was determined he was illegally claiming medical benefits for his divorced spouse.
Parody photo of Alvarez who faked his Medal of Honor
Three Valleys Water District also deserves credit for keeping their board free of individuals like Alvarez. Congratulations to the Los Angeles County District Attorney Public Integrity Unit for convicting this criminal.
9-30-09 Hundreds of Walnut residents showed up at the Walnut Senior Center for the annual health fair. Five hundred influenza shots were given to residents free of charge. These shots are for the annual flu strain. We have not received any immunizations yet for the H1N1 swine flu outbreak. The swine flu has begun to show up in the area. The illness can be moderate to severe, especially in young and adolescents Contact your health care professional for advice on this outbreak.
9-23-09 A citizens group opposed to the City of Industry NFL Stadium group walked out of negotiations with Majestic Realty and the City of Industry. Negotiations were conducted at the offices of former Attorney General John Van de Kamp in downtown Los Angeles. Van de Kamp will likely declare that they acted in bad faith during negotiations.
These discussions were started by Senate Pro Tem John Steinburg to avoid an imposition of a CEQA exemption for the stadium project. This walk out likely ensures that the State Senate will move forward with the CEQA exemption for the stadium sometime aroud the end of the month. This law makes it impossible to challenge the SEIR findings of fact of the City of Industry permitting the construction of the Stadium and entertainment complex.
9-22-09 The Walnut City Council, meeting in closed session, approved a settlement agreement with Majestic Realty and the City of Industry regarding the NFL Stadium project. The details of the settlement will be released on 9-24-09 if the City of Industry agrees to the settlement. The settlement was advised and encouraged by special counsel hired to deal with this issue, Jan Chatten-Brown.
9-20-09 Six months ago, I wrote how certain individuals were using the NFL stadium issue for strictly political purposes. I noted that they were using this as a wedge issue for political gain. Lately, someone seeking political endorsements, claimed that I am not running for re-election. This is a distortion of facts. I will be seeking re-election in April 2010.
9-11-09 The California State Senate witheld action on the NFL Stadium Entertainment Complex pending immediate negotiations between the developer and the City of Walnut. This puts Walnut in a less favorable negotiating position in their quest for mitigation for the project. Both sides were given two weeks to work out their differences before the Senate takes action on the bill. Exemption from a CEQA process is rare, and this likely is to placate environmental groups which strongly support the CEQA process on all projects. State Senate Majority Leader Steinburg will be appointing a special mediator to work on this issue.
9-10-09 The California State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a bill exempting the NFL Stadium Entertainment Complex from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) and forwarded it to the California State Senate.
9-9-09 With legal bills approaching a half million dollars, Walnut has been challenged with a potential serious setback in its quest for a suplemental environmental impact report for the proposed NFL Stadium, entertainment complex in the City of Industry, adjacent to Diamond Bar.
Majestic Realty officials recently traveled to Sacramento with the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor to seek an exemption from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to allow construction of the project. Labor leaders allege that Walnut's opposition to the project is denying access to jobs by thousands of union members. At the same time, Regional Chamber of Commerce members are alleging that the actions by the City of Walnut are anti-business.
This unusual labor-business coalition helped push a bill today out of committee, to work its way to the State Assembly floor to support this CEQA exemption. If passed, the bill would stop Walnut's legal challenge to the project and could exempt the developer from doing any mitigation for the City of Walnut whatsoever. Walnut also would not be able to recover legal fees spent prior to the legislation taking effect. The chance of this bill becoming law is unknown at this time. It is certainly not sure to succeed.
Both the City and the developer have alleged that neither side has entertained any serious face to face discussions in attempting to reach a meaninful settlement. In the mean time, lawyers for both sides are amassing tremendous legal expenses. I have been disqualified from participating in this issue by the State of California Fair Political Practices Commission due to a family member previously buying a residence adjacent to the now proposed stadium, with a down payment I provided.
In related news, the long awaited quiet zone for the railroad noise generated south of Valley Boulevard is on indefinite hold by the City of Industry. This is in retaliation for the legal challenges raised by Walnut over the Stadium Entertainment Complex. It would appear that no one can continue to claim credit for this issue in Walnut. The quiet zone was negotiated by former Mayor Tom Sykes prior to him leaving the City Council.
The NFL stadium complex issue is sure to heat up as labor leaders become involved in this project.
9-02-09 The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) has produced a new video which discusses the purpose of the COG.
8-12-09 The State of California remains in a deficit despite the ill-conceived plan to kick the problem to local government by "borrowing" redevelpment and other city revenues. After the recent slight of hand budget scheme in Sacramento, the State is continuning to spend revenues at a non-sustainable rate.
According to the Orange County Register, despite issuing IOUs last month, the state's cash deficit grew in July, according to figures released by State Controller John Chiang this week. California began the 2009-2010 fiscal year, on July 1, with a $11.9 billion cash deficit, which ballooned to $16.5 billion by July 31. From July 2 through July 31, California issued $1.5 billion in IOUs, which are officially known as "registered warrants." "IOUs allowed the State to preserve just enough cash to get through the month, but that came at great expense to California taxpayers, families and businesses," Chiang said in a written statement.
To put $16.5 billion in perspective, the USS Ronald Reagan nuclear aircraft carrier cost $4.3 billion.
8-7-09 The Mojave Desert is certainly not the most hospitable place in Southern California in August. Mayor Tom King from Walnut and a dozen other members of the US Army Advisory Committee for Southern California traveled to the elite Fort Irwin National Training Center to review the accommodations and facilities for soldiers and their family’s at the most remote Army facility in the Continental United States.
Southern California US Army Advisory Board at US Army National Training Center
The tour included viewing new public partnership housing, which include new modern residences with all amenities including kitchens with granite countertops, counseling and educational facilities for soldiers and families.
New Housing at Fort Irwin located at the US Army National Training Center
Every US Army and allied unit being deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq spends a month in the training center just prior to deployment overseas. The soldiers are run through scenarios and evaluations including live fire, and tactical incidents daily. They are evaluated and trained on their tactics, making them the best trained military in the world.
3rd Infantry Division Soldiers undergoing tactical simulation at US Army National Training Center
The center offers a realistic training environment for soldiers with explosions, roadside bombs and other special effects designed by Lucas Films. The solders then are shown videos of their performance and taught to improve their tactics. The National Training Center covers an area larger than the state of Rhode Island thirty five miles from Barstow. It includes 13 simulated towns some consisting of over six hundred buildings, Realistic air support is provided from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas Nevada.
8-2-09 Walnut's eleven year old division won the Pony League World Series for their division Chesterfield, Virginia. This culminates an impressive season for the young ball players. Walnut has a strong community involvement in Pony League baseball and the City of Walnut boasts best playing fields on the west coast. Now the City has bragging rights to the best team in the United States. The players and their parents deserve a special recognition for their teamwork.
7-24-09 Walnut was again listed as one of the best cities to live in in the United States according to the August edition of MONEY Magazine. Walnut ranked number 70 in the United States in small towns with populations between 8,000 abd 50,000. Walnut ranked as the number one city to live in California, followed by Rancho Santa Margarita and Clayton.
7-16-09 The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) elected Walnut MayorTom King as President of the Government Agency. King previously served as vice-president of the Council of Governements. The SGVCOG represents 34 member Cities, water agencies, and unincorporated communities stretching from La Canada Flintridge to Claremont and from Alhambra to Pomona. The SGVCOG area encompasses 325 square miles and has 2,000.000 residents. The area includes portions of three County Supervisory Districts.
If the SGVCOG was a State, it would be ranked 39th in population of the United States. The SGVCOG encompasses 20 percent of the population of Los Angeles County and 20 percent of the jobs in the County. The SGVCOG area is two and a half times the size of the City San Francisco and twice the size of the cities of San Diego and San Jose.
The SGVCOG has received over two billion dollars in State and Federal funds for the San Gabriel Valley, and was instrumental in developing the Alameda Corridor East (ACE) Construction Authority and the Metro Gold Line.
COG President King pledged to work to close the gap in the Long Beach Freeway which has vexed the cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park and South Pasadena for over thirty years. King also will press for a fair share of transportation funds for “shovel ready” projects such as the Gold Line to Claremont and the Inland Empire.
7-16-09 The recall of former Mayor Mary Su and Council member Nancy Tragarz failed today after the proponents failed to turn in any signatures in support of the recall. A recall attempt of Council member Joaquin Lim is still actively in progress.
7-4-09 The question is often asked, "Why is California broke?" The answer is simple. California government consists of a multitude of agencies, some created without any consideration of cost of budgeting, staffing or operation. A list of some California agencies and offices is below:
* California Academic Performance Index (API) * California Access for Infants and Mothers * California Acupuncture Board * California Administrative Office of the Courts * California Adoptions Branch * California African American Museum * California Agricultural Export Program * California Agricultural Labor Relations Board * California Agricultural Statistics Service * California Air Resources Board (CARB) * California Allocation Board * California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority * California Animal Health and Food Safety Services * California Anti-Terrorism Information Center * California Apprenticeship Council * California Arbitration=2 0Certification Program * California Architects Board * California Area VI Developmental Disabilities Board * California Arts Council * California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus * California Assembly Democratic Caucus * California Assembly Republican Caucus * California Athletic Commission * California Attorney General * California Bay Conservation and Development Commission * California Bay-Delta Authority * California Bay-Delta Office * California Biodiversity Council * California Board for Geologists and Geophysicists * California Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors * California Board of Accountancy * California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology * California Board of Behavioral Sciences * California Board of Chiropractic Examiners * California Board of Equalization (BOE) * California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection * California Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind * California Board of Occupational Therapy * California Board of Optometry * California Board of Pharmacy * California Board of Podiatric Medicine * California Board of Prison Terms * California Board of Psychology * California Board of Registered Nursing * California Board of Trustees * California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians * California Braille and Talking Book Library * California Building Standards Commission * California Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education * California Bureau of Automotive Repair * California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair * California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation * California Bur eau of Naturopathic Medicine * California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services * California Bureau of State Audits * California Business Agency * California Business Investment Services (CalBIS) * California Business Permit Information (CalGOLD) * California Business Portal * California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency * California Cal Grants * California CalJOBS * California Cal-Learn Program * California CalVet Home Loan Program * California Career Resource Network * California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau * California Center for Analytical Chemistry * California Center for Distributed Learning * California Center for Teaching Careers (Teach California) * California Chancellor’s Office * California Charter Schools * California Children and Families Commission * California Children and Family Services Division * California Citizens Compensation Commission * California Civil Rights Bureau * California Coastal Commission * California Coastal Conservancy * California Code of Regulations * California Collaborative Projects with UC Davis * California Commission for Jobs and Economic Growth * California Commission on Aging * California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation * California Commission on Judicial Performance * California Commission on State Mandates * California Commission on Status of Women * California Commission on Teacher Credentialing * California Commission on the Status of Women * California Committee on Dental Auxiliaries * California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, Junior Colleges * California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office * California Complaint Mediation Program * California Conservation Corps * California Constitution Revision Commission * California Consumer Hotline * California Consumer Information Center * California Consumer Information * California Consumer Services Division * California Consumers and Families Agency * California Contractors State License Board * California Corrections Standards Authority * California Council for the Humanities * California Council on Criminal Justice * California Council on Developmental Disabilities * California Court Reporters Board * California Courts of Appeal * California Crime and Violence Prevention Center * California Criminal Justice Statistics Center * California Criminalistic Institute Forensic Library * California CSGnet Network Management * California Cultural and Historical Endowment * California Cultural Resources Division * California Curriculum and Instructional Leadership Branch * California Data Exchange Center * California Data Management Division * California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission * California Delta Protection Commission * California Democratic Caucus * California Demographic Research Unit * California Dental Auxiliaries * California Department of Aging * California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs * California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Appeals Board * California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control * California Department of Boating and Waterways (Cal Boating) * California Department of Child Support Services (CDCSS) * California Department of Community Services and Develop ment * California Department of Conservation * California Department of Consumer Affairs * California Department of Corporations * California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation * California Department of Developmental Services * California Department of Education * California Department of Fair Employment and Housing * California Department of Finance * California Department of Financial Institutions * California Department of Fish and Game * California Department of Food and Agriculture * California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) * California Department of General Services * California Department of General Services, Office of State Publishing * California Department of Health Care Services * California Department of Housing and Community Development * California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) * California Department of Insurance * California Department of Justice Firearms Division * California Department of Justice Opinion Unit * California Department of Justice, Consumer Information, Public Inquiry Unit * California Department of Justice * California Department of Managed Health Care * California Department of Mental Health * California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) * California Department of Personnel Administration * California Department of Pesticide Regulation * California Department of Public Health * California Department of Real Estate * California Department of Rehabilitation * California Department of Social Services Adoptions Branch * California Department of Social Services * California Department of Technology Services Training Center (DTSTC) * California Department of Technology Services (DTS) * California Department of Toxic Substances Control * California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) * California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVets) * California Department of Water Resources * California Departmento de Vehiculos Motorizados * California Digital Library * California Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Certification Program * California Division of Apprenticeship Standards * California Division of Codes and Standards * California Division of Communicable Disease Control * California Division of Engineering * California Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control * California Division of Gambling Control * California Division of Housing Policy Development * California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement * California Division of Labor Statistics and Research * California Division of Land and Right of Way * California Division of Land Resource Protection * California Division of Law Enforcement General Library * California Division of Measurement Standards * California Division of Mines and Geology * California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) * California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources * California Division of Planning and Local Assistance * California Division of Recycling * California Division of Safety of Dams * California Division of the State Architect * California Division of Tourism * California Division of Workers’ Compensation Medical Unit * California Division of Workers’ Compensation * California Economic As sistance, Business and Community Resources * California Economic Strategy Panel * California Education and Training Agency * California Education Audit Appeals Panel * California Educational Facilities Authority * California Elections Division * California Electricity Oversight Board * California Emergency Management Agency * California Emergency Medical Services Authority * California Employment Development Department (EDD) * California Employment Information State Jobs * California Employment Training Panel * California Energy Commission * California Environment and Natural Resources Agency * California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) * California Environmental Resources Evaluation System (CERES) * California Executive Office * California Export Laboratory Services * California Exposition and State Fair (Cal Expo) * California Fair Political Practices Commission * California Fairs and Expositions Division * California Film Commission * California Fire and Resource Assessment Program * California Firearms Division * California Fiscal Services * California Fish and Game Commission * California Fisheries Program Branch * California Floodplain Management * California Foster Youth Help * California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) * California Fraud Division * California Gambling Control Commission * California Geographic Information Systems Council (GIS) * California Geological Survey * California Government Claims and Victim Compensation Board * California Governor’s Committee for Employment of Disabled Persons * California Governor’s Mentoring Partnership * California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services * California Governor’s Office of Homeland Security * California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research * California Governor’s Office * California Grant and Enterprise Zone Programs HCD Loan * California Health and Human Services Agency * California Health and Safety Agency * California Healthy Families Program * California Hearing Aid Dispensers Bureau * California High-Speed Rail Authority * California Highway Patrol (CHP) * California History and Culture Agency * California Horse Racing Board * California Housing Finance Agency * California Indoor Air Quality Program * California Industrial Development Financing Advisory Commission * California Industrial Welfare Commission * California InFoPeople * California Information Center for the Environment * California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (I-Bank) * California Inspection Services * California Institute for County Government * California Institute for Education Reform * California Integrated Waste Management Board * California Interagency Ecological Program * California Job Service * California Junta Estatal de Personal * California Labor and Employment Agency * California Labor and Workforce Development Agency * California Labor Market Information Division * California Land Use Planning Information Network (LUPIN) * California Lands Commission * California Landscape Architects Technical Committee * California Latino Legislative Caucus * California Law Enforcement Branch * California Law Enforcement General Library * California Law Revision Commission * California Legislative Analyst’s Office * California Legislative Black Caucus * 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6-30-09 The Greater La Puente Valley Meals on Wheels is a non-profit, volunteer community service program providing home delivery of meals for anyone unable to prepare or obtain adequate meals.
Meals on Wheels is dedicated to helping the disabled, aged and chronically ill, delivering nourishing food at a nominal cost during a period of need; assuring a friendly interest and a helping hand so that people can remain self-sufficient in their own homes. The income of these recipients must be in the low to moderate income range.
Meals on Wheels serves the communities of:
Bassett, Diamond Bar, City of Industry, Covina,
Hacienda Heights, La Puente, Rowland Heights,
Pomona, Valinda, Walnut and West Covina.
Meals on Wheels is always looking for qualified volunteer drivers to bring meals to those who most need their help. Volunteers are asked to choose between being either a regular driver or a substitute.
Regular drivers will be assigned a route to drive once a week, substitutes will be called as needed. It takes approximately 3 hours (10 am to 1 p.m.) to fully complete food pickup and delivery. Service days are Monday through Friday.
If you are looking for a rewarding way to serve your community, call the Greater La Puente Valley Meals on Wheels today and volunteer.
This Meals on Wheels program has only one paid staff member, and is a voluntary organization. Meals on Wheels also needs two modern working computers to print labels for meal labeling and for correspondence.
For service or to volunteer call or email:
Telephone: (626) 333-4570
FAX: (626) 333-4902
6-24-09 I traveled briefly to Sacramento to represent the Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities to the Public Safety Committee meeting. The committee advises the League on policy matters related to law enforcement, fire protection and public safety. The committee consists mostly of former and present police and fire administrators, council members and municipal managers.
The committee sat in stony silence to hear San Francisco Senator Mark Leno, the head of the Senate Public Safety Committee tout his latest budget proposals destined to cause the economic and social downfall of the State of California. Leno, and his completely out of touch associates have proposed the reduction of tens of thousands of felony sentences to misdemeanors. That means the person who steals your car, or sells your child narcotics would only face a minimal county jail sentence for these crimes.
Since District Attorneys use search warrants to assist the police in investigating or prosecuting these crimes, they would not be obtainable, as a search warrant is used to determine if a felony is committed. This tool would be taken away from law enforcement officers so that chop shops, narcotics activity, or similar crimes could no longer be properly investigated.
The confinement of these criminals, would shift to the County or local government to shift the burden of imprisonment from the State. The State measures also propose transfering parolees to already swamped and case overloaded County Probation Officers. Up to 79 crimes are up for consideration to misdemeanor reductions.
Leno is remembered for his recent attempt to make the possession of small "personal amounts" of child pornography a misdemeanor, and compared it to "stealing a bicycle."
The League committee members were briefed by the President Judy Mitchell of the League of California Cities on other proposed budget schemes being proposed by the State legislature. These schemes include the outright theft of redevelopment and transportation monies that have previously been guaranteed by the voters in Statewide propositions, and confirmed by the courts. Propositions are ammendments to the State Constitution by the voters, and the legislature does not have the legal authority to violate their provisions. Every previous attempt has been overturned by the courts.
The League of California Cities has pledged to be in court the very first day that they try to implement these fiscal schemes. The State is intent on kicking the budget deficit can to local government. That is totally unfair, as cites historically live within their means. The State of California is in a Constitutional and structural deficit crisis. The leadership in Sacramento is so wrapped in partisan and petty politics, they are unable to do the job they have sworn to do.
6-12-09 Private companies are mass-mailing Los Angeles County and the State with official looking letters that charge property owners an unreasonable fee to file a “Decline in Value Reassessment Application (Prop 8). These solicitation letters are formatted in a way that could mislead people to believe that they from the County. These letters can confuse homeowners into paying as much as $179 to file for a Prop. 8 review when the assessor may be doing this FOR FREE!
6-12-09 This has been an unfortunate week for San Gabriel Valley Cities. First, the a mayor resigned in a nearby community for failing to properly file a campaign expenditure. Next the replacement mayor, a former mayor and a defeated council candidate were indicted for bribery. Then another mayor in a nearby community had a search warrant served on his personal residence where officials were looking into campaign contribution irregularities.
The process of reporting campaign expenditures is somewhat unwieldy and confusing. The rule of thumb is that you have to report what you receive. Walnut has even more restrictive limitations on when a candidate can raise money, how much can be raised, and who can conribute.
Election to public office is not meant to be a key to self enrichment. An elected official should not vote for something he has a financial interest, or take gratuities or gifts from others which could influence a decision. When a person makes a gift of candy, flowers, ties, plaques, or other presentation, I make these items property of the City.
Candy or flowers are given to City Staff, and the rest remain at City Hall on my council desk. They will remain property of the City of Walnut for the City to dispose of as the City Manager sees fit.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney dilligently investigates violations of public corruption and agressively prosecutes members of City Councils, Planning Commissioners or staff who violate the public trust. Much of their time is taken by politically motivated complaints based on third party hearsay or rumor. But chargeable criminal complaints are sought if the evidence is compelling. Investigations are not at all speeded up because of elections, or other poltical events to safeguard the rights of the accused individuals.
6-4-09 California State Treasurer John Chiang stated at the League of California Cities meeting this evening that the state fiscal crisis is likely to be up to four times as great next year. The anticipated State revenues of 12 billion dollars last month came in at a level of 7 billion dollars.
6-3-09 Temple City Mayor David Capra resigned as part of an ongoing investigation of corruption in San Gabriel Valley Cities. As part of a plea bargain, he pled guilty to one count of not reporting campaign contributions in his election campaign. He received 36 months probation and cannot hold office for four years. A grand jury is probing possible bribery allegations against two more council members.
6-3-09 The State of California will be completely out of money on July 24th. The State bond rating is the lowest in the United States and a commercial bailout of the State budget crisis is not attainable. Realistically, California State government will likely be bailed out by the Federal government. The Federal government has been printing money at an astronomical rate. The Federal Reserve has been buying toxic assets at a record rate. The Federal government has borrowed more money in the last six months than in the last thirty years. That is more money than the historical expenditures for the War on Poverty, the Viet Nam War, both Iraq wars and the war in Afghanistan.
Historically, these type of expenditures and borrowing have led to the financial collapse of countries, such as the Weimar Republic in Germany, prior to the onset of National Socialism, and the rise of a facist government in that country. Hopefully history will not repeat the past.
The State will be "borrowing" over $400,000 in Walnut property tax revenues. The State also has no way of paying the money back, unless the Federal government backs the borrowing. In addition the State may withold $500,000 in State Gas Tax monies owed the City of Walnut. The State is also eyeing borowing Redevelopment Agency taxes, that in this City are used to service debt going back to the incorporation of the City. The calculations and projections change nearly daily in Sacramento and it is difficult to predict what the final take away from the City will be.
I will not support the current rate of borrowing from the City reserves by my colleagues. It is a time for very prudent attention to conserving precious City resources.
5-8-09 The proposed California Budget propostions 1A though 1E are heading to defeat. These propositions use deceptive names to conceal the fact that they increase borrowing and raise taxes by the State of California. Even if they were to pass, the California budget deficit will continue to increase. After the ballot proposition fail, look for draconian responses by the State of California. Our elected representatives in Sacramento refuse to stop spending more than they take in in revenues. The approval rating for the California legislature is polling at just above 20 percent. The Federal government is borrowing money at a rate that defies logic and is completely economically unsustainable.
5-4-09 PSOMAS Engineering Compay of Los Angeles officially notified the Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission that they are withdrawing the expansion of radio station KRLA and the proposed five radio broadcast towers adjacent to the upper Collegewood area. PSOMAS has asked for a return of the filing fees for the project.
4-7-09 Despite a steepening recession, the State of California continues to acrue a deficit. The recently approved budget did some creative sheltering of the problem, but a structural deficit remains.
California State income tax is now at 10.425% with a trigger allowing further increases to 10.55%. That is the highest state income tax in the nation. Several states have no income tax. California's sales tax rate is 1.5% higher than the next highest state. California sales tax is also the highest in the nation, at 8.25%. In Walnut, and the rest of the county, the rate is 9.25% to build a very expensive subway to the sea. Some local cities have added additional sales taxes on top of the 9.25% rate. California vehicle license fees have just been doubled. Governor Gray Davis was recalled for instituting similar increases.
On May 19th, the State of California is proposing proposition 1A which extends the recent State tax increases and spending. Tax increases have historically deepened recessions and the future of this dubious measure is in doubt. In the final analysis, spending will have to be decreased and government made smaller or bankruptcy of the State is a real option.
Walnut remains in a comfortable position. I oppose the current trend of the Walnut City Council to dip into reserves to cover expenses. The reserves are in place for catastrophic events such as a major earthquake damaging infrastructure. It is not wise to spend money when you do not have to.
4-7-09 The Diamond Bar City Council settled their CEQA challenge to the proposed NFL stadium on Grand Avenue, near the site of the former Diamond Bar Honda. In a unanimous vote, they approved a 20 million dollar settlement to address traffic mitigation, and a $700,000 to $1,000,000 augmentation to the general fund depending on the number of events held. Majestic Realty will be building a sports field for Lorbeer Middle School, and establishing a community facilites fund for public services. The settlement also calls for a safety committee to address future impacts of the sports facility and adjunct businesses.
As the Diamond Bar Honda site was a large contributor to the City of Diamond Bar sales tax revenues, plans will be moving forward to construct a sizeable hotel on the same site.
4-2-09 Salem Communications verified with Walnut City Staff that they have abandoned their proposal to put multiple radio transmission towers in the open area adjacent to homes on San Gabriel Valley Drive. The property is being listed for sale. Staff will still be analyzing potential annexation to the City of Walnut to prevent further obnoxious development in this area.
3-25-09 The Walnut City Council announced at a 11:00 AM news conference that a lawsuit has been filed against the City of Industry to require a new Environmental Impact Report for the proposed NFL Stadium project. Tom King was not being present as he cannot participate in the stadium issue discussions because of nearby real estate owned by his son.
At a 5:30 PM study session with residents of the affected area, the City Council approved the final landscaping plans for the Meadowpass Road extension. Construction is scheduled to commence September 15.
3-11-09 In a late night session which included impassioned public comments for and against the issue, the City Council voted 4-0 to sue the City of Industry to ask for a new EIR for the NFL Stadium Project. Tom King did not participate in voting on the issue because his son owns a condo a block from the stadium site.
A Notice of Intention to Circulate a Recall Petition for Council Member Joaquin Lim was filed in the Walnut City Clerk's Office. This notice joins others served on Council Members Mary Su and Nancy Tragarz. A recall is an expensive process in these fiscally difficult times.
A recall could cost Walnut taxpayers $250.000.00. Combining these potential costs with Walnut's current legal fees in the NFL Stadium issue ($10,000 weekly) may likely put the Walnut City budget upside down. This could mean an unprecedented dip into reserves. Reserves have been accruing since the founding of Walnut, and in today's ecomonic climate are not likely to be replaced. Diversity in opinions are a strength of a democracy. The rainy day fund of Walnut should never be accessed for political purposes.
Recalls divert staff and City Council members from doing their duties.
3-6-09 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is the widely anticipated job stimulus program which was signed by President Obama on February 18th. Walnut has applied for its fair shair of the Federal Econmic Stimulus Project. The following are funds which may be received for the City of Walnut for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009:
Grand Ave North Section Resurfacing $900,000.00
Grand Ave South Section Resurfacing $650,000.00
Nogales Street North Resurfacing $375,000.00
Nogales Street South Resurfacing $400,000.00
Temple Ave Resurfacing $550,000.00
La Puente Road Resurfacing $530,000.00
Commercial Street Resurfacing $775,000.00
These projects are in the approval process and amounts are not guaranteed. In addition, these funds may be exchanged for other types of funding that may have certain requred uses. For example cities sometimes trade restricted funds for 70% unrestricted funds. Transportation Funds are sometimes traded for unrestricted funds at negotiable transfers. Agencies and Cities frequently trade funds.
3-5-09 The City Council of Walnut is scheduled to vote to approve $150,000.00 in special legal fees at the next meeting on March 11th related to the NFL stadium project in the City of Industry.
The Walnut Unified School District has given furlough notices to one third of the teachers at Westhoff Elementary School. The District was apparently forced to do this to avoid receivership.
Rowland Unified School District is likewise making tough decisions on laying off both teachers and classified employees.
Walnut's sales tax figures have declined for the first time in many years. The tentative amount of the drop in revenues is estimated to be around 10 percent.
3-3-09 The City of Walnut opposes the stadium project as presently proposed. Stadium related legal costs continue to escalate. Jan Chatten-Brown, special legal counsel for the NFL stadium project presented the City of Walnut today an invoice of $69.682.00 for the period of 12-12-08 to 1-30-09. In addition, the City of Walnut contracted for other special consultants regarding the NFL Stadium project including Peter Lewandoski, and Kosmont and Associates. Additional legal services have occurred since the date of the invoice.
To date, very little face to face discussion has occured between the City of Walnut, the City of Industry, and Majestic Realty. This is due to a perception that there is no room for negotiation or mitigation, only legal action to stop the NFL Stadium Complex. In the final analysis, a court will still require face to face discussions of mitigation issues. A CEQA lawsuit does not stop a project. Rather, it challenges mitigation proposed, and requires corrections to errors or omissions in the original document.
It would seem prudent that frank discussions would have occured before these legal fees began to accrue. Former Mayor Lim has indicated that he would tap into the City reserves to fight this project. No limit has been placed on these future legal expenses. Frank and honest discussions of the issues are a lot cheaper than $69,682.00. That is what City staff is for, and they have been underutilized.
2-26-09 The Industry City Council approved the proposed NFL stadium and entertainment complex as part of the revised Suplemental Environmental Impact Report and made a determination that the project go forward. Attorneys from the City of Diamond Bar and Walnut objected to the approval. A thirty day period to challenge the SEIR begins when the City of Industry files the Notice of Determination with the County Recorder.
2-17-09 The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department is co-sponsoring a polar plunge on Saturday, February 28th, 2009 at Zuma Beach, Lifeguard tower #9 to raise funds for the athletes of the Special Olympics of Southern California. If you would like to participate, please visit http://www.zumapolarplunge.com.
2-14-09 The Walnut City Council held a press conference today to discuss a proposed recall being initiated by a few defeated City Council candidates from the last two elections. The Walnut Council members present represent different viewpoints and diverse groups of supporters. The Council members agreed that this recall is simply politically motivated and a bad idea for Walnut.
Walnut recently held an election. A few people lost and the votes have been counted. Whether one likes these various Councilmembers or not, it is foolish to waste up to a quarter million dollars of taxpayers money to recall them. This is not the right economy to waste taxpayers money. While I am not always in agreement with some of my colleagues, this recall effort is nothing less than a grab for power by a fringe political group. The recall will simply distract the Council members from doing their job.
Some politically motivated people are very eager to spend the taxpayers money to promote their political agendas. They would feel diffferent if it was their own money.
2-13-09 Meadowpass Road construction has tenatively scheduled to begin on 9-15-09. The delay is expected due to nesting of protected bird species.
Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley nailed another crooked politician in Bell Gardens today. 31 year old Michael Beltran, council member of Bell Gardens was sentenced to four years probation and resigned in disgrace for failing to report cash contributions to his campaign and reporting irregularities. His plea bargain prohibits him from holding public office and felony charges of perjury and grand theft were dismissed. The District Attorney agressively pursues ethics violations by elected officials.
2-11-09 Councilmember Mary Su was elected as Mayor and Council Member Tom King was elected Mayor Pro Tem.
2-9-09 California voters hoped for more responsible State spending when they recalled Governor Gray Davis. Unfortunately since the recall, California's General Fund has spiraled upwards from 76.3 billion dollars to 102.9 billion dollars this year, an increase of 34.9 percent. State spending has been running completely out of control, with automatic increases not tied to revenues.
At the same time, population and inflation grew 21.5 percent, which is a substantial increase in itself. If State spending had been tied to inflation and population increases, the budget would be at 92.7 billion dollars.
California revenues decreased this year from 102.5 billion dollars to 87.5 billion dollars. This obviously demonstrates the need to cap state expenditures, and place money away for a rainy day.
Thousands of Federally mandated prison releases are possibly just weeks away, as prison rights advocates have found a helpful ear from some Federal judges in Sacramento. Widespread releases of Felony prisoners will have a devastating effect on the crime rate in our communities.
These issues are challenging the quality of life in all cities. California needs to be run like a business.
2-6-09 To veterans, saluting the flag is an important occasion. Many veterans served overseas, some in difficult assignments, some in combat. Veterans have a special bond and love of their country which is not always understood by civilians. Veterans have a deep pride in representing the military service, even when not in uniform.
A 2009 law signed by Senator James Inhofe has just authorized veterans and members of the armed forces who are not in uniform to render the military salute during the National Anthem, as well as the hoisting, lowering, and passing of the flag.
2-5-09 The MTSAC Board of Trustee passed a resolution on 1-28-09 joining the Cities of Walnut and West Covina opposing the Salem Communication 50,000 watt radio towers in the hills between the San Bernadino Freeway and Buzzard Peak. Almost every residence in the unincorporated area northeast of Walnut is sporting a No Radio Tower sign. Hopefully community awareness will continue to increase the number of signs on the Walnut side of the project. This proposal seems to stay below the radar in Walnut and is great concern to the residents on San Gabriel Valley Drive and nearby streets.
The City of Industry has announced a public hearing on the proposed NFL stadium on February 12th at 8:00 AM at Industry City Hall, 15651 East Stafford Street in Industry. The Industry Planning Commission will likely adopt a revised development plan. Persons wishing to comment should attend the meeting.
2-04-09 New green technology may soon lower taxes again in Walnut. A new design in light emitting diodes is being developed. Conventional street lights in Walnut are sodium vapor. They were installed in the 1970's and 1980's to replace conventional incandescent lighting. There were two purposes for switching to sodium vapor in the San Gabriel Valley. The lighting was cheaper to operate, and the color did not interfere as much with the astronomers at the Mount Wilson Observatory above Arcadia.
The new LED street lights being developed use a fraction of the electricity to produce better light than the currently used sodium vapor lights. They last many times longer in service than the existing fixtures.
Several Lighting and Open Space Management Districts (LOSMD) in Walnut run at a severe deficit. The early City Councils that approved Walnut's neighborhoods and open space areas simply forgot to put a routine cost of living clause in their LOSMD documents. The City managed to actually reduce LOSMD taxes by staff adjustments and competetive bidding of maintenance. LOSMD revenue has lately stayed fixed, but increases in labor, electricity and water costs have pushed well beyond the revenues.
In 2002. a prior City Council placed burlap bags over many streetlights to save money in some LOSMD areas. That decision was risky from a liability standpoint and upset many residents. The City has been subsidizing the LOSMD districts by general fund transfers to keep taxes low. That subsidy is approaching a million dollars a year.
Residents naturally never vote to increase taxes on their residences to simply receive the same level of service. That is especially true in the present economy. City Councils cannot raise taxes under Proposition 13.
It is hoped that City funds will be dedicated to replacing all City street lights with new energy saving fixtures. I have met with Edison company officials to ask that Walnut be first in the que to get the new technology.
The million dollar subsidy to LOSMD's would be better suited for placing in reserves in case of a natural disaster which damages the communitiy infrastructure.
2-03-09 The NFL stadium issue is a topic of controversy for residents of Walnut. The Cities of Walnut and Diamond Bar have each spent a considerable amount of money addressing the impacts of the proposed NFL stadium in the City of Industry. That has included the hiring of special counsel in both cities, and the hiring of experts in the California Environmental Quality Act to study and respond to the envionmental reports produced by the City of Industry. The City and it's staff is addressing all of these issues in a professional and legal manner. The City is sharing some of those resources with our neighbor, the City of Diamond Bar.
Unfortunately, as is sometimes the case, there is a very small group of politically motivated persons who are attempting to capitalize on a controversial issue for their own personal political gain. They are using commercial email programs to target all registered voters, and alleging a lack of integrity or truthfulness of the City Council. These individuals use ficticious names, and also pass out unsigned flyers signed as "Frightened Walnut Residents".
Some already claim to be spearheading the issue, which is already being addressed by a hard working City staff, far from the limelight and newspaper headlines. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated and professional staff in the City of Walnut.
While I can not comment on the NFL Stadium because a family member owns a condo down the street from the site, I will attempt to clarify the record of my colleagues. The comments below do not necessarily reflect my own opinion. I am required by the Poltical Reform Act to keep my advocacy on this issue to myself. To do otherwise, I would risk fine and imprisonment.
My colleagues and I have asked that the special counsel for the NFL project prepare a response which follows below:
Prepared by: Jan Chatten- Brown, Special Counsel for City of Walnut
Concerns have been expressed that Walnut might miss a statutory deadline to challenge the environmental review of the City of Walnut. This correspondence is intended to assure Walnut residents that the City of Walnut intends to fully pursue all of its legal rights under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and will timely seek to obtain a court order requiring Industry to prepare a legally adequate Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
Apparently there has been confusion regarding when such an action must be brought. Under CEQA, an action must be brought within thirty days of the filing of a proper Notice of Determination (NOD). An NOD is to be filed only after a project is approved. On January 22, 2009, the Industry City Council certified the Supplemental EIR for the NFL Stadium and Entertainment Complex, but they have not approved the project. They cannot approve the project until after it is considered by the Planning Commission, which is scheduled for February 12. The City Council will likely approve the project on February 26. Both the Industry City Attorney and the attorney for Majestic Realty have advised our Special Counsel, Jan Chatten-Brown of Chatten-Brown & Carstens, that they do not intend to file the NOD until after the project is approved, and in fact it would not be proper to so. Out of an abundance of caution, our Special Counsel has requested notification of the date of filing of the NOD, and a response to that is required under CEQA.
While Walnut residents should rest assured that the City will pursue all of its legal remedies to assure that Industry prepare a legally adequate EIR, and will adopt all feasible mitigation measures and alternatives, you also should be aware that CEQA does not itself prohibit a project from being approved when there are adverse environmental impacts: rather, it prohibits a project with significant adverse impacts from being approved if there are feasible alternatives and mitigation measures. An agency must have substantial evidence to support its conclusion that a mitigation measure or an alternative is not feasible, but the courts give considerable deference to public agencies in making such determinations.
Thus, to protect the interests of Walnut residents as fully as possible, the City of Walnut will continue to try to identify the most stringent mitigation measures feasible and propose them to Industry in case the Stadium project is ultimately approved. Your views on what measures could best protect the interests of Walnut residents would be very much welcome.
As a final matter, we strongly urge you to be as specific as possible about what the adverse impacts of the proposed Stadium would be to you and the environment should you chose to testify or submit further to the City of Industry. Neither the courts nor the Industry City Council will be receptive to hearing that you simply don't want the Stadium in our back yard. While the Industry City Council may not be influenced by any amount of information on the adverse impacts that would flow from the project, the courts are concerned with this information. Be as specific as possible about the quality of life that you want to protect, and how the project would affect that life. Of example, photographs of traffic or testimony about how long it already takes you to travel on streets that would be impacted, and what increased traffic would mean in terms of travel time, would be important. If there is a member of your family that suffers from asthma, or some other respiratory problem, tell the City of Industry about that, and how the dust from massing grading and emissions from construction and operation of the NFL Stadium would affect that person. Similarly, if you think you would be impacted by increased noise, explain why quiet is important to you, and what the impacts of losing that quiet at certain times would be great.
Much has been made of the presumed economic benefit of the Stadium. If you know of studies that counter Majestic’s contentions, cite them, and incorporate them by reference.
Also, Industry claims that the impacts of operation of the Industry Business Center planned originally for the site would be greater than those from the Stadium and Entertainment Complex. Explain why that is not true.
Please be assured that the Walnut City Council wants to continue to work with you to defend the quality of life in Walnut.
1-24-09 The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG) met today to update the three year strategic plan for the San Gabriel Valley. Much of the discussion centered around the proposed stimulus plan, the need for a Trauma Center in the eastern San Gabriel Valley, the Gold Line, and the effect of the downward spiral of the economy. Many Cities are facing severe challenges due to home forclosures, business failures, the homeless problem and the State budget crisis. Some cities are exploring bankruptcy protection.
The State of California is already functionally bankrupt. The State is searching for ways to service debt and limited bonding sources of funds due to the State's low credit rating, which is the lowest in the nation.
State resources are so far in the red, that if every state employee was laid off, including prison guards, and every prison was emptied, the deficit would remain.
The State budget is tied to automatic budget increases, despite the sharply lower revenues being earned by the State. This deficit will soon affect every city in California as the State looks for any revenue to borrow to pay the State's growing debt. Sales tax and property tax revenues in all cities are significantly declining.
1-22-09 The City of Industry officially certified the SEIR for the proposed NFL Stadium on Grand Avenue. Citizens and attorneys from Diamond Bar and Walnut spoke out against the proposed project. The item passed 5-0.
1-20-09 The City of Industry Infrastructure Bond issue passed by an unofficial vote of 60-1. The 150 million dollar bond issue is for infrastructure improvements at the site of the proposed Los Angeles NFL Stadium. The City of Walnut opposes the project at the junction of the Pomona Freeway and Grand Avenue.
1-19-09 Councilmember Tom King is proposing a Walnut city ordinance which will restrict the effective radiating power of any type of RF transmitter withing 1000 feet of a residence. This ordinance would apply to digital or analog transmissions. The ordinance would limit the RF or radio frequency output to 1000 watts radiated power in the day and 5000 watts effective radiated power in the evening. The ordinance would only apply to new projects. Any exception to this ordinance would require a zoning variance. It is hoped that this ordinance will be adopted by adjoining cities and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors can be reached at the following email addresses:
Gloria Molina email@example.com
Mark Ridley Thomas SecondDistrict@bos.lacounty.gov
Zev Yarolsovsky Zev@FifthDistrict@lacbos.org
Mike Antonovich FifthDistrict@lacbos.org
Don Knabe Dsommers@lacbos.org
Staff has also been advised to look into annexaton of the proposed radio tower cites located east of San Gabriel Valley Drive. The Los Angeles County Formation Commission for the County of Los Angeles will be contacted to see if Walnut can annex the property. If it is found that the property is in the sphere of influence of the City of West Covina, it will be proposed to the City of West Covina, that that area be annexed into their City.
1-16-09 Walnut celebrated it's 50th anniversary of incorporation at Walnut City Hall. The event honored residents and former civic leaders in making Walnut the premier city of the San Gabriel Valley.
1-15-09 The San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments (SGVCOG), representing all local cities and special districts unanamously selected Tom King as secretary of the executive board. The board is being re-organized and this position will be identified in the future as a third vice president. Information on the SGVCOG is at http://www.sgvcog.org/.
1-14-09 The Walnut City Council reported after closed session a decision to suspend further meetings of the Stadium/Entertainment Complex Task Force. This was apparently due to potential litigation over the NFL Stadium Issue. Normally during litigation, actions are taken in closed session by the City Council, and any public statements regarding issues being litigated are made only by the Clerk or the City Attorney. Tom King was recused from the closed session.
1-12-09 Walnut City Council Members joined a delegation from the California Contract Cities Association to meet in Sacramento with members of the both political parties to urge an end to the California budget crisis. The delegation met with the leadership of both houses of the legislature, the governor and the legislative analyst to lobby for protection for local government money. The State of California has reached the end of it's borrowing limits and local representatives are uncertain if the State is looking to take local revenues to backfill excessive state spending and borrowing. inforrmation on the Contract Cities Organization is at http://www.contractcities.org/.
1-10-09 A resident recently complained why individual members of the Walnut City Council are not participating as active and outspoken members of the private organized citizens group which is opposing the NFL stadium project.
The open meeting laws of the State of California are quite different than years past. They are the most common ways that City Councils, commisioners, and appointed bodies get themselves into serious trouble.
The Walnut City Council members have taken a formal position on the issue. They have passed resolutions, and continue to meet in closed session regarding the issue. They are continuing to make decisions and discuss these matters under a publicly posted agenda. During litigation and during closed sessions, these items cannot be discussed outside of the closed session meeting room by law.
A majority of members, (3) cannot meet in private meetings which are going to discuss any item coming before the City Council. That includes "serial meetings". Serial meetings are when one council member attends a private meeting with an interested group with one council member, and then attends a second meeting with another council member to discuss the same substantial issue which will be discussed later by the Council. These serial meetings are illegal and considered criminal violations of the law.
A majority of the council members of a City may not e-mail each other to discuss agenda topics even if the e-mails are also sent to the clerk and Mayor of the city, or even if the e-mails are posted on the agency’s Internet website, and a printed version of each e-mail is reported at the next public meeting of the council. They may not use a third party to communicate with a City Councilmember, by email, letter, or phone call. That is why when a citizen emails me and cc's another Council member, I ask them not to forward my email.
These laws apply to Commissions, task forces and other city agencies.
The penalties for violating California's open meeting laws are very severe. First, it is a criminal matter, punishable by law including jail time and fines. Secondly it is a civil matter. If a person or other entity is affected by the violation, they have a right to sue to reverse any subsequent decision, and entitled to all legal fees. Lastly, a public agency must immediately reverse any action found to violate the California open meeting law.
The purpose of these laws is to promote open government. Every citizen has a right to know what their elected officials are doing, and has a right to comment on their actions, even those taken in closed session. Council members are entitled to have an opinion, and express it publicly unless they have a conflict of interest. Council members can go to functions and dine together, but have to limit their discussions to other than city business.
Council members actually go to classes yearly on subjects related to ethics, zoning and meeting laws. These are put on by organizations such as the League of California Cities, or the Contract Cities Organization. The classes routinely run two or three days each per year. The classes will be held January 21-23 in Sacramento this year.
1-09-09 The final SEIR for the NFL Stadium project is due to be released today in the City of Industry. The document will be posted on the City of Walnut web site as soon as a copy is available. The document will be available for public comment which will occur during a regular session of the Industry City Council.
Industry, as the lead agency, can reject the document, accept the document or request a full EIR. Since Walnut has indicated that it may challenge the SEIR, the developer may chose to do a full EIR. This would delay the final submission of the report until later in the year. Much of the original SEIR would be reincorporated into a new EIR as it consists of 800 pages of documentation and research. A new EIR, if required, would likely address any objections raised in the existing SEIR, and update any research that has aged from the original document.
1-9-09 The mayors of Los Angeles County, meeting as the City Selection Committee selected Tom King as one of two library commissioners representing the First Supervisorial District. This district covers the incorporated areas of Baldwin Park, El Monte, Bell, Bell Gardens, Cudahy, Huntington Park, La Puente, Maywood, Montebello, South Gate, South El Monte, Pico Rivera, Rosemead and Walnut.
The County of Los Angeles Public Library was established in 1912 under authority of the County Free Library Act. The Library is a special fund department operating under the authority of the County Board of Supervisors. Today it is one of the major libraries of our nation, and provides library service to over 3.5 million residents living in unincorporated areas and to residents of 51 of the 88 incorporated cities of Los Angeles County.
The service area extends over 3,000 square miles. Supplementing the 7.5 million volume book collection, the Library also offers magazines, newspapers, microfilm, government publications and many specialized reference materials including online databases.
1-07-09 Conflicts of interests can be very costly for politicians.
Today it was reported in the news that the Mayor of San Bruno was fined $9,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to recuse himelf from makng a decision where he owned property adjacent to a parcel being deliberated about. Ironically his predecessor paid a $20,000 fine for a similar violation.
12-31-08 CNN Money Magazine listed Walnut as the most livible city in the San Gabriel Valley.
12-29-08 California is now tied with Louisiana as the lowest rated bond ratings in the United States according to Standard and Poors.
12-19-08 The California State Budget Crisis has reached epoch conditions which certainly will affect local government, including Walnut.The State is effectively bankrupt and will run out of money in February. The structural deficit of the State of California is estimated at at over 42 billion dollars. It is also not very difficult to figure out how to get out of the mess. Spending needs to be curtailed. This is the largest fiscal problem in the history of the State of California. There is little doubt that the State will try to grab money that is entitled to the City. The annual budget deficit for this fiscal year is estimated to be around 14 billion dollars.
To put 42 billion dollars in perspective, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the Navy cost 4.3 billion dollars. The State of California is in now in the red for the monetary equivalent of buying nearly ten nuclear aircraft carriers.
The current US government bailout of the banking industry underway is much more more costly than the cost of the Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam and Korean wars put together.
This is a time for Walnut to be very prudent on it's expenditures.
12-10-08 The Walnut City Council voted 4-0 in closed session to interview law firms regarding potential litigation with the City of Industry over the proposed NFL stadium on Grand Avenue at the 60 Freeway.
Due to the fact that a member of my immediate family owns a residence adjacent to the stadium site, and I have an investment in excess of $2000 in that residence, I am required to recuse myself from participating in this decision. I am prohibited from voting either for or against the project, even if it is against my own personal interests.
I also cannot publicly comment for or against the stadium project because that opinion would be likely conveyed to the other Council members who are considering this project.
11-29-08 The California State Budget crisis continues to grow in Sacramento. The structural deficit for the State of California is estimated to be over 28 billion dollars. Just a few months ago, the governor claimed that the deficit was 6 to 8 billion dollars. In reality, it was closer to 12 billion dollars. Historically, the politicians in Sacramento underestimate the deficit amount so they can pass legislation affecting their districts or supporting their political agendas.
This State deficit threatens to spread to local government. The City of Walnut is financially stable with substantial reserves. What happens in time of State fiscal crisis is that the State takes revenues that are designated for schools, local governments, and highway funds and uses it to pay interest on borrowing to pay debt service by the State. Schools are already laying off teachers, and are struggling to pay for State mandated programs which sap their stretched resources.
The problem is so severe at this time, that the State of California is now effectively bankrupt. California has headed towards the lowest credit rating of all the States. Lower credit ratings mean higher rates to borrow and difficulty in finding sources of borrowing. The stopgap measures such as tripling the car tax, raising sales tax are doubtful to work because consumer spending is plummeting, and home forclosures continue. For example, there are over 15,000 home forclosures in the San Gabriel Valley and it been estimated that there are now 5000 to 8500 homeless in the San Gabriel Valley.
I am very concerned and expect that the State will interfere again with our revenue entitlements and deal a crippling blow to our local government. The City of Walnut continues to save money for the eventual rainy day which is on the horizon.
There has been no effort by the leadership in Sacramento to cut back on deficit spending. As revenues decrease, State spending continues to skyrocket, fueling the needs of special interests. The game may be reaching it's end.
Unlike the federal government, State and local governments cannot continue print more money to "pay" the bills. Unless all levels of government are run like a business, the recession will deepen considerably. In times of higher revenue, funds need to be saved. Instead the State simply increased spending. Sales tax revenues and property tax entitlements to the City of Walnut are plummeting in this difficult financial collapse.
I have asked City staff to prepare a budget contingency report in January to address these very serious issues. We may have to re-assess program funding for the remainder of the fiscal year.
11-22-08 Do you want to be a government watchdog? Are you concerned about how your elected officials conduct themselves and their meetings? Are you concerned about special interests and their ability to control local government?
If the answer is "yes" to the above questions and you want to make a difference in local government, volunteer to serve on the Los Angeles County Grand Jury. Applications are available by calling (213) 893-1047. You must be willing to volunteer 30 to 40 hours per week and be a US citizen, a one year resident of the county and be of good character and intelligence. Leadership means making a difference. Are you up to the challenge? For forms online go to www.grandjury.co.la.ca.us. The deadline to apply is December 11, 2008 .
11-21-08 Tom King was asked by the United States Army to assist in the Greater Los Angeles Recruitment project. In a luncheon hosted by Los Angeles Dodgers vice president Tommy LaSorda and other community leaders, local poltical and educational leaders pledged to work together to find well qualified applicants to join the United States Army.
Councilmember King was honored to participate with former KABC Weather forcaster Dr. George Fishbeck and others who also steadfastly support the military. Dr. George is healthy, witty and spry, and spends his time volunteering at the Los Angeles City Zoo.
11-12-08 Richard Saretsky and Michael Brown were unanimously confirmed by the City Council as Tom King's appointments to the NFL Task Force. Richard is a long time community activist and has served as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner and a respected former Planning Commissioner. Michael Brown is the next president of the San Gabriel Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce and has numerous awards for his involvment in the City and the business community for many years. Richard Saretsky was subsequently selected as Chairperson by his peers.
In the politically charged atmosphere of the NFL Stadium it is completely inappropriate that some disparaging comments were made by other task force members regarding my appointment of Mr. Brown. According to their objections, Mr. Brown has made comments somewhere (not dislosed to me) supporting the NFL project. Mr. Brown is certainly entitled to his opinions. I did not ask either Mr. Brown or Mr. Saretsky their opinions on the stadium project prior to their selection. Appointments to Commissions, Boards, and other governmental bodies are a ministerial duty of each member of a City Council.
As elected officials, and appointed Commissioners and members of City Committees it is imperative that members respect the opinion of all other members, regardless of their personal views or opinion. These officials represent all of our community with a diversity of opinion. For any governmental function to be successful, it must be perceived as completely fair.
There is a concept of government called "tyranny of the majority". It was frequently seen in socialistic or communist countries . In it, the persons with the perceived majority view looked out for and made decisions for and without regard for those with the minority view. That is called totalitarianism. It is a concept that is undemocratic and completely not acceptable in American government.
If it is ascertained that Mr. Brown or any others are not treated with respect or dignity, there will be no hesitation to move to have any task force member removed from the position they are priviledged to hold.
10-30-08 Tom King was re-appointed to the Public Safety Committee of the League of California Cities. This policy committee advises the combined membership of all city governments in California as to positions to take relative to legislation on law enforcement issues. The bipartisan positions taken by League committees are very influential with state policy makers on proposed legislation affecting cities.
An example of a flawed law effectively opposed by the committee was one requiring police officers who arrest a drunk driver take the suspect to a hospital to receive psychological couseling prior to booking. This procedure would cost cities millions of dollars in unecessary hospital fees and would take a police vehicle out of service for several hours simply for taking a drunk driver off the street.
10-22-08 The City Council approved the final design of the Meadowpass Road Project. The roadway will be a divided highway, with an equestrian and hiking trail on the west and a sidewalk on the east. Part of the the existing creek wil be relocated slightly west and restored to a natural riparian habitat under supervision of the San Gabriel Valley Mountains and Rivers Conservancy. An inspection of the existing creek found that it had been previously moved by ditching, and that the creek was in the final stages of decline. The bed of the river was choked with non-native vegatation and willow roots which were stagnating the natural flow.
10-15-08 The Walnut City Council again voted to oppose the NFL stadium in the City of Industry. The Council withdrew previous motions which had been alleged to be non conforming to the Brown Act. Council member King recused himself from the motions due to a conflict of interest. The Council also voted to establish a ten member semi-formal citizens task force to deal with stadium issues. The Council tabled a request by the mayor to impose a moratorium on all road widenings, hotels, bars and nightclubs. The City attorney advised since no such projects are proposed, there exists no emergency to justify the action. In addition, cancelling of future street improvements could create a liability for the City.
10-13-08 I have asked City Staff to publish a City Attorney opinion dated 9-19-08 and place it on the City of Walnut website. The opinion consists of several questions posed by Council Member Mary Su regarding the NFL project. When the document is released after a public records request by any citizen, I will post a link to it here.
10-12-08 A law firm representing Majestic Realty has written the City Council of Walnut demanding the withdrawal of certain motions made by Mayor Lim regarding the NFL stadium. The firm is alleging violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act, and lack of due process in formation of his motions. This firm threatens litigation if the alleged defective motions by Mayor Lim are not cured or corrected. The demand has been responded to by the City Attorney.
Richard McKee, of Californians Aware has also filed a new complaint against the City of Walnut regarding harrassment of individuals who wished to testify regarding the NFL Stadium project. Californians Aware has a track record of litigating against City Councils which limit free speech or open access to government. The complainant has been answered by the City Attorney.
Unfortunately, the collision of various groups over the NFL stadium is likely to get only more nasty as time goes on. One group is genuinely concerned that the NFL Stadium is going to ruin the community. A second group wants the Stadium and looks to capitalize in business or recreational opportunities. A third group simply does not care. A fourth group only hopes to politically gain from what appears to be an indecisive City Council and will use any means to accomplish their goals.
In my view, the latter group has quickly taken advantage of the unfortunate failure of the City Council to simply enforce Roberts Rules of Order in conducting the meeting. The allowance of applause, catcalls, and even profanities against speakers could have a potential high legal cost for the City Council, and easily cause the City Council to re-vote the issues again.
Staff and the City Attorney have tried to advise the City Council the appropriate procedures, only to be thrown under the bus and blamed for the alleged resulting improprieties. That is the very worst kind of leadership and will devastate staff's morale. We are fortunate to have the best staff in the San Gabriel Valley and are a training ground for city governments thoughout Southern California.
Despite likely lawsuits, legal fees, and elections that will undoubtedly come to pass, only the following factual information below will have any affect on whether the NFL stadium will be approved by the City of Industry:
10-11-08 This is the final week for citizens to comment to the City of Industry on the proposed NFL Stadium project. Below are the instructions from the City of Walnut web site on how to comment on the SEIR:
"PUBLIC COMMENT ON THE EIR
The deadline to submit your written comments to City of Industry is on or before October 17, 2008.
Anyone wishing to comment should do so, in writing, to Mr. Mike Kissell, Planning Director, 15651 East Stafford Street, City of Industry, CA 91744, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also provide the City of Walnut a copy of the written comments you submit to the City of Industry.
GUIDELINES FOR COMMENTING ON EIRs
The public review period is an important part of the EIR process, during which the public is invited to comment on the potential impacts of any such proposed project. The lead agency is then required to provide responses to the comments submitted and incorporate them into the Final EIR.
Following are simple guidelines aimed at assisting you in preparing effective comments that can potentially effect change in a proposed project:
When preparing your written communication, keep in mind that opinions or close-ended comments are not addressed. For example, a comment like “I don’t like this project,” is likely to result in a response of “Comment Noted” or “Not Applicable.”
Comments should be written in a manner that calls for responses. For example, your comments should:
-Clearly state your name and the title of the proposed project your comment is addressing;
-Identify the section of the EIR your comment is responding to;
-Phrase your comment in a clear and concise fashion, that includes your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with the section; and
-Where possible, provide reasons or examples and offer recommendations or alternatives. "
The City of Walnut has made available a copy of the SEIR report at www.ci.walnut.ca.us.
The lead agency in this project is the City of Industry. Comments and protests for or against the project to the City of Walnut will not be considered by the City of Industry. The City of Walnut will have a detailed, and comprehensive response to the SEIR to the City of Industry. The City of Walnut has also taken a formal stand opposing the NFL Stadium in Industry. That stand is advisory and has no legal authority to stop the project.
10-10-08 Richard McKee, former President of the First Ammendment Coalition, a free speech activist, has filed another request for Brown Act Cure or Correction relating to Mayor Lim's NFL stadium resolutions. Mayor Lim has stated McKee's demands are politically motivated by a non-resident.
Violations of the Ralph M. Brown act are actionable as both criminal and civil matters. The prevailing party in a Brown Act action is entitled to an award of legal fees. It would appear that the City has headed down the road of litigation.
10-10-08 Passions often run high during contentious City Council meetings. Unfortunately, the last few City Council meetings have caused a small minority of citizens to complain that catcalls, and comments from the audience have limited their right of free speech.
It is important that all persons have a right to make comments without threats or intimidation even if only perceived by a minority. I have requested that future Council meetings return to following Roberts Rules of Order which have traditionally governed the meetings. The allowance of these perceived transgressions, true or false, could have unfortunate civil or legal consequences.
10-9-08 After attending a Meals On Wheels Board meeting in the City of Industry, I stopped by the Industry City Hall to see if anyone had protested for the continuance of the City of Industry SEIR during their just concluded City Council meeting. Industry Staff advised me that no one had showed up to protest, and the matter was not agendized for discussion. Therefore the SEIR review process for the Industry Stadium will not be be extended.
Regarding Meals on Wheels... This all volunteer agency is always in need of regular drivers, substitute drivers, and even volunteer Board Members to serve the many aged needy persons who are alone in our community. If you would like to volunteer for any position, please ca;; 626-333-4570. Please leave a message if the secretary is out. Needy elderly people are neither conservative or progressive, they are just hungry.
10-7-08 In response to allegations that the Walnut City Council violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, I have requested that all closed sessions be tape recorded and a copy given to the city clerk for safekeeping. The purpose of this is to make all members accountable for their actions while in closed session.
10-5-08 Richard McKee, former President of the First Ammendment Coalition, a free speech activist, has filed a request for Brown Act Cure or Correction relating to Mayor Lim's NFL stadium resolutions on September 24. McKee alleges that the resolutions were not noticed or agendized, and deprived the public the opportunity to speak on the issue.
Violations of the Ralph M. Brown act are actionable as both criminal and civil matters. The prevailing party in a Brown Act action is entitled to an award of legal fees.
9-24-08 The Walnut City Council voted 4-0 to adopt a resolution opposing the proposed City of Industry NFL stadium. The City Attorney has advised the Council the resolution is advisory in nature and has no legal jurisdiction. The resolution will be simply be answered "comments noted." by the City of Industry in the Suplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR).
The valid way to have a legal effect on the project is to comment on the issues such as traffic, air pollution and other effects in the SEIR process to the City of Industry. Industry must address those comments depending on how technical in nature the comments are.
The City will share the cost of a consultant to address those issues with the City of Diamond Bar. The City of Walnut will also seek to compel the City of Industry to extend the SEIR process to allow more time for investigation and comments. The City has good legal precedent to gain the extension. Comments formulated by the consultant will have to be addressed as part of the SEIR process.
I was personally advised by the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to abstain from discussion, and not be in the room when the vote was taken due to my investment in a nearby property. The investment was made several years ago prior to the original Grand Crossing Project even being proposed. Four years ago, I recused myself from commenting on the earlier project for the very same reason. I became aware of the stadium project only a couple of months ago.
The Public Integrity Unit of the Los Angeles County District Attorney agressively prosecutes any City Council member for violating the public trust by failing to recuse themselves from a conflict of interest. A recent case occurred in nearby Pomona.
Council members who could potentially make financial gain as a result of a resolution are required by law to recuse themselves from the issue before discussion.
9-19-08 Character is what we do when no one is watching. The Ralph M. Brown Act is the open government act of California. It requires posted agendas 72 hours before an item is discussed. Actions taken in closed session must match the agenda posted. Use of a closed meeting to poll, or discuss other issues not on the agenda in private before a regular scheduled public meeting violates the democratic process. The Los Angeles County District Attorney has warned the City Council of Walnut to more carefully adhere to the principals of the Ralph M. Brown Act. In my opinion, those principals have been not recently been adhered to.
9-16-08 Always be sceptical of anonymous emails from made up names or organizations. The Internet is famous for broadcasting false information and political spin, A mass email is being circulated advising Walnut citizens to write to the Walnut City Council requesting that a hospital be built instead of the NFL stadium in the City of Industry.
The purpose of this site is to give factual information. According to a City Attorney opinion, Walnut does not have any jurisdiction, whatsoever, in the NFL stadium issue, nor does it have the legal authority to stop it. The City of Industry has a private proposal to build a clinic, not a hospital as part of the NFL stadium project. Writing this request to the City of Walnut will not influence the City of Industry in any way. All comments regarding the NFL stadium need to be addressed primarily to the City of Industry. Information on how to do this is at: http://ci.walnut.ca.us/upload/nfl_eir.PDF
I have long worked with other representatives from the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments to try to bring a trauma center to the eastern San Gabriel Valley. The next meeting on this subject is on Thursday, September 18th. There is no private interest at this time to do so, and the County Hospital system is in disaray, as evidenced by the closure of Martin Luther King Trauma Center in South Central Los Angeles.
9-12-08 The request by the Cities of Walnut and Diamond Bar for additional time to make comments on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) for the proposed NFL stadium in Industry has been denied. The 45 day comment period will stay in effect. The SEIR is a supplement to an already approved Environmental Impact Report for the Grand Crossing Project.
9-11-08 A memorial service was held today at Calvary Chapel in Diamond Bar for Walnut Station Deputy Jim Gilmartin who passed away on August 29th. Council member Tom King represented the Cities of Walnut and Diamond Bar which have been served by this outstanding individual. When Jim was undergoing chemotherapy for his illness, several deputies had also shorn their hair in buzz cut haircuts to show their solidarity for Jim. Jim was suffering from brain cancer.
Jim was an extremely compassionate deputy who gave money to people to get them on their feet, and provided a Christmas tree to a local family in financial need. He also provided a bicycle for the little girl in the same family.
Despite a reoccurance of his illness, he obtained the permission of Captain David Halm and Sheriff Lee Baca to return to the streets to patrol duties in Walnut, just a few months before his death.
Jim was a giant of a man and represented the finest traditions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Deputy Jim Gilmartin is survived by his wife of 12 years, Sabrina; son Kyle, 12; daughter Emily. Kyle hopes to be a deputy sheriff when he grows up, just like his dad.
9-10-08 A bid has been accepted to start an accelerated rebuilding of the intersection of Grand Avenue and Amar Road. This $2.5 million dollar project will be a complete rebuild of the intersection. Construction will start October 1, to have the smallest impact on traffic because of MTSAC classes. Construction will be around the clock to shorten the time of impact for this project.
Traffic wait times are anticipated to improve by up to 17 seconds at this intersection, which is the busiest in Walnut. The Redflex camera system has also continued to cause a steep decline in traffic violations at this intersection. It will be re-installed during the expansion of the intersection.
9-9-08 A presentation by Majestic Realty was agendized and scheduled for the September 10th Walnut City Council meeting to inform residents of the NFL stadium project. The presentation has been unexpectedly cancelled by Mayor Joaquin Lim.
9-5-08 If you have been following the progress of the Meadowpass Road Project you will see that we have been asking for the assistance of the San Gabriel Valley Mountains and Rivers Conservancy to become involved in the restoration of Lemon Creek. This has at last occurred.
The Conservancy agreed to be involved in advising the City of Walnut in restoring the riparian habitat of the creek which is in a extremely degraded condition due to human impact on the environment. The creek will he restored to a condition which existed before human habitation introduced non native plant material into the creek. This is good news for Walnut and good news for the neighbors adjoining the creek.
9-3-08 Today the City of Industry released their latest environmental report for the proposed NFL Stadium in the City of Industry (http://www.losangelesfootballstadium.com/) , on Grand Avenue, next to the former Diamond Bar Honda site. This project will have a significant impact on traffic circulation on Grand Avenue. The review period is 45 days. It is imperative that anyone wishing to comment regarding the effect of the project and potential mitigation to the impacts comment to the City of Industry Planning Commission. They are the lead agency in the EIR and will make the sole determination if the project is constructed. Info on this process can be found at: http://ci.walnut.ca.us/upload/nfl_eir.PDF
At the present time, no community in the San Gabriel Valley has come out in opposition to this project. While there is likely considerable concern in Walnut for the traffic impact, a much larger commercial development of the parcel has already been approved by the City of Industry then the proposed stadium.
Many folks will not be happy about the stadium, and the City of Walnut has no legal options to stop this project, as we lack jurisdiction.
Some have questioned why the City does not lead a fight as we did in the occurence of the MIRF (materials recovery facility), a proposed potentially unhealthy development we blocked years ago. At that time the City of Walnut had the support of health experts, local communities such as Diamond Bar and Pomona, as well as the support of politicians of both parties in State government. We do not have that support or regional concern at this time.
The City deserves mitigation to offset the traffic impact of this project. Political spinning of the project will not impact it's construction. We need to constructively address the impacts in the best possible manner.
8-18-08 The City of Industry has proposed raising the output of the street lights on Valley Boulevard, the length of the street in Walnut. Under the proposal, Industry would spend $250 per light standard in the City of Walnut to upgrade the lights, and Walnut would pay an additiona $0.49 per light, per month in electricity costs. The raising of the light output would match that which wil soon exist on the Industry side of Valley Boulevard. At the present time, Valley Boulevard is LA County and each curb is the the City boundary for Walnut and Industry. Plans are to annex the new improvements to Valley Boulevard to the City of Walnut some time in the future.
Shortly after hostilities commenced on the war on terror, Councilmember King requested that City Hall fly flags of the various military services until our service men and women come home. We have adopted various units of the military and provided support for troops stationed overseas. King also proposed banners be erected on various city street lights honoring al service members. This process has now been copied by dozens of communities all over Southern California.
The banners have been up so long they need replacing. Commencing on September 2nd, 112 banners proudly honoring our service members will be replaced with new ones, which will feature larger lettering to better honor individual service members.
8-17-08 A nearly sixty acre site west of the Walnut Sheriff Station and the City Maintenance facility is in escrow. The parcels are believed to have sold in the neighborhood of eighteen million dollars. The offshore developer who is attempting to purchase the project has proposed building a Mariott, Hilton, or similar upscale hotel.
The site presently consists of three lots, and the majority of the property is currently a hillside zoned to be residential. The property on Valley Boulevard west of the hill is commercial. The developer has tenatively stated he wishes to donate the majority of the local hillside land as open space in exchange for building up to a seven story hotel. The proposed development would use the hillside as a buffer to the hotel development which would be right on Valley Boulevard.
This is problematic for the developer because the height restriction in Walnut is 35 feet and two stories. Staff, the Planning Commission and the community will have to wrestle with alternative of grading the hill into a residential community, or having the hill as a buffer between the commercial development being proposed. The project would call for a "specific plan" and is certain to cause much public interest. The property will likely not remain undeveloped much longer in any event. Under current zoning, the land will not be open space.
The developer claims that the project will project up to a million dollars a year to the City of Walnut in bed tax revenues. Apparently the developer also is anticipating the development of the football stadium in the City of Industry. Rooms during football season could go for as much as six hundred and fifty dollars a night. The Ctiy of Walnut has a ten percent bed tax on the books.
Another company is also seeking to build another hotel at the corner of La Puente Road and Grand Avenue. The cost of that project is unknown.
8-4-08 Council members Tragarz and King attended an informational presentation by Majestic Realty Company regarding the proposed NFL stadium being considered on the boundary of the City of Diamond Bar and the City of Industry.
All Walnut City Council members have been invited to attend similar briefings. These meetings will be individual presentations and not formal City Council meetings to comply with the Ralph M. Brown Act on open meetings. The presentations are similar to those made to officials of the NFL by Majestic Realty.
According to John Semcken, who is spearheading the project, the proposal includes three milllion square feet of entertainment, retail, commercial and stadium development. The stadium will be built into a hillside west of the former Diamond Bar Honda site and the parking area will be on the eastern side of Grand Avenue at the 57 freeway. The investment in the project is well over half a billion dollars.
The project wil have a considerable effect to future traffic on Grand Avenue during the forty or so events that will be held in the stadium. In addtion to the stadium, a "City Walk" type project similar to Universal City is envisioned along with a NFL affiliated museum.
Majestic Realty has already leased the land for the stadium for a proposed Grand Crossing project. According to Mr. Semcken the stadium will produce less traffic than the already approved Grand Crossing project.
Semcken was the person who developed the Staples Center in Los Angeles for Majestic Realty. He stated that Majestic will be holding meetings in nearby cities to express concerns and ask questions about the project. The project is highlighted on http://www.losangelesfootballstadium.com/. The City of Diamond Bar has made a copy of the supplemental environmental impact report available at https://www.ci.diamond-bar.ca.us/Index.aspx?page=771.
The agency with jurisdiction over the project is the City of Industry. The City of Walnut will be asking for input on mitigation of the effects of this project. Majestic Realty is the company which developed the Village shopping center at Grand Avenue and Valley Boulevard in both the City of Walnut and the City of Industry.
The NFL offered a franchise to the City of Los Angeles if the City would build a new stadium. The City of Los Angeles could not obtain the support for public financing to build a new stadium as both the Coliseum and Pasadena Rose Bowl are not compatible with NFL requirements. Majestic Realty has offered to fund the stadium and purchase a team outright.
7-23-08 Recently, a group of concerned residents approached the City Council asking their support opposing the installation of five 285 foot radio transmission towers near the intersection of San Gabriel Valley Drive and Grand Amar in the unincorporated area east of Walnut. These towers create a hazard for helicopters and fixed wing aircraft used to fight wildfires in this portion of the City.
The City of Walnut has sent a resolution to the Federal Communications Commission, the Los Angeles Regional Planning Commission and Supervisors Antonovich and Molina strongly protesting these proposed towers. Staff has been directed to monitor the development of this project and the City will take any feasible actions to provent this hazardous construction project from moving forward.
The City of Walnut has added an additional sheriff's patrol vehicle to to patrol the streets of Walnut. While crime is again down in Walnut, the promotion and transfer of Sgt. Brad Gray has resulted in a realocation of resources to add another car. This unit wll be assigned to regular patrol, specific crime problems and traffic enforcement.
It is significant to note that in times of economic downturn, Walnut is continuing to put money away for a rainy day and is increasing law enforcement services.
6-25-08 The Walnut City Council approved the EIR for the Meadowpass Road Project. Part of the approval is to reduce the roadway status to an important local street from an important secondary street. The roadway will be two lanes with an extended right of way to assist in preservation of the creek bed. This will require an ammendment to the General Plan, which will be initiated at the Planning Commission.
The intent is to preserve as much of the natural stream bed as well as improve emergency access to all adjacent neighborhoods.
The opponents and proponents of the EIR both made passionate arguments. Their demeanor was respectful and spirited. The City Council decision was 5-0. Some of the opponents have obtained legal counsel, and have promised to initiate litigation. A total of three attorneys spoke objecting to the EIR process. Their objections will be answered by the City Attorney.
6-23-08 Council Member Tom King flew to Sacramento today to speak in support of SB 1350 (Cedillo, 22nd District). The trip was requested by Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Messina of Alhambra who also serves on the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments Transporation Committee with Tom King. Assemblymember Mike Eng, of Monterey Park requested suppport of the bill. Twenty nine of thirty one city governements in the San Gabriel Valley supported the completion of the 710 freeway.
After an early defeat, and with bi-partisan support from Assemblymember Bob Huff of Diamond Bar, the State Assembly moved SB 1370 out of committee, 10-2. This bill is for a public/private partnership and authority to build the missing link of the 710 Freeway underground without damaging heritage homes in South Pasadena. The bill has a long road ahead in both houses and needs to be signed by the governor. It may be one of the most important transportation issues in the San Gabriel Valley. This issue has been controversial for 50 years, and has been mired in litigation since 1973. It now appears that process is beginning to move forward with private money to complete this missing link.
The actions by members of both the Assembly and State Senate in moving this bill foreward was a remarkable and long overdue bit of statesmanship.
6-19-08 A resident inquired about acquiring the parcels around Meadowpass as a park. It would take funding from the San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy or another such organization. It would not be in the best interest of City finances to spend the many millions of dollars that it would required to do so. That does not mean it will not or could not happen, but it is not foreseable at the present time.
The two landowners who own the largest parcels of vacant property are only interested in putting in homes, and they are not interested in paying for the road. They have also been embroiled in business controversy for many years.
The resident who read this website thought that I wanted a four lane stark roadway with no divider or parking. That is one alternative I do not want to see. I envision making this area scenic, with parking, equestrian and hiking trails, and landscaping. The entire creek needs to be unpiped and reverted to riparian or natural conditions. I cannot really finalize my views until until I hear the public speak, and hear the staff report. I do not have any reservations at this time that the road needs to be completed in some fashion.
The trafffic on Walnut Canyon Road, Sunset Bluff Road, and Peach Blossom needs to be redirected to Meadowpass road as envisioned before some one else is killed. These roads were never designed to carry the traffic they are experiencing.
One week before a young man was killed on Walnut Canyon Road, my daughter Laura was before the Walnut City Council asking them to do something to slow traffic down. She asked for a stop sign at Peach Blossom and Walnut Canyon Road. She was ignored. The young man was killed one week later when he ran a motorcyle into a cement pilar after losing control. She went back to the City Council and said "Now I know you will do the right thing." They put the stop sign in.
I can speak from personal experience after being hit as a pedestrian by a car in the same neighborhood. I spent several months in the hospital and went through six months of therapy to learn to walk again. With out going into the details, it was a life changing event for me. I cannot sit back and let it happen to someone else without doing something to stop it from happening again and again. That would be unethical and immoral. Incidentally, I spent twenty to twenty five minutes on the ground waiting for an ambulance because Meadowpass was not connected and the ambulance could not find my street.
6-12-08 The City of Walnut General Plan has established Meadowpass Road as an important secondary street in the City of Walnut since 1979. The failure of the City of Walnut to implement this planned roadway has resulted in a re-direction of traffic to adjacent neighborhoods with streets not designed to carry the volume of traffic that would normally be diverted to Meadowpass Road. The development of roadways, neighborhoods and traffic elements must comply with the General Plan of an Incorporated City.
Meadowpass Road is a four lane, lighted, and signalized secondary roadway. Substantial traffic is being diverted to adjacent streets which are undersized, without lane markings, and with street lighting only at intersections. At least one fatality has occurred on these adjacent streets. Substantial property damage has been incurred by residents, overturned vehicles and an attempt to mitigate these accidents with speed bumps has failed to prevent traffic accidents.
The development of the Belgate, Timberline, Marlborough Ridge, Innsbrook and other neighborhoods was permitted based on the access provided General Plan of Walnut. Further deterioration of the intersections of Valley Boulevard and Lemon Avenue, and Amar Road and Grand Avenue to a rating of "F" within the next year is predicted by the EIR if this road is not completed. Residents of these neighborhoods as well as Collegewood are being deprived of rapid response of emergency services including service of the Sheriff, County Fire Department and Paramedics.
While I have not made a pre-determination in the EIR, I believe the further delay of this project puts the City at great liability in not following the General Plan.
The opponents of Meadowpass road are distributing a flyer alleging that the Meadowpass Road project will add 2000 cars to Fuerte Drive, 1000 cars to Walnut Canyon Road and 4000 cars to Pierre Road. This is absolutely refuted in the EIR. In fact, the biggest effect of the project will be shifting vehicles from Walnut Canyon Road to Meadowpass.
The only section of Walnut Canyon Road that will see any appreciable increase in traffic is the last eastern section. That is because no cars can leave Marlborough Ridge homes via Meadowpass Road. When the road opens, mostly only local traffic will leave and enter that section. The impact is minimal. School and commuter traffic which totally clogs Fuerte, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Bluff and Peach Blosson will shift to Meadowpass Road as designed in the General Plan.
The flyer also alleges that the Lemon Creek will be dried up. This is a reckless misrepresentation of the truth. The Creek will be restored and enhanced to make it a scenic part of the City. It would appear that some people are willing to say anything to get their way.
A few pro-Meadowpass Road residents have attempted to post flyers and pass them out refuting the claims of the Meadowpass opponents, but they are destroyed withing a short time of delivery. That is a very sad comment about this issue.
Signs are being posted on residents yards, some without permission urging folks to attend a meeting to stop the Meadowpass connection. The opponents have lined private property on Walnut Canyon road without permission of the owners of the property.
Traffic is the major concern of Walnut residents.
The City Council will take public testimony, and determine if additional information exists which is not in the EIR. If the EIR is adopted, then the Council will make a decision which of several options to follow in constructing the roadway. I do not believe the Council has the legal or moral authority to not build the roadway unless there is new evidence presented at the meeting to the contrary.
6-10-08 The review period for the Meadowpass Road EIR has closed. Residents can still send their opinions for or against the project to email@example.com. Residents can also email their council members but usually those comments do not enter into the public record. A 'CC to Mr. Fox ensures that it does.
On June 25th at 7:00 PM there will likely be a lively exchange of opinions of various members of the public, and the City Council must make a ruling that is consistent with the general plan of the City.
State law requires cities to adopt a comprehensive general plan to govern the physical development of the city. The general plan must contain seven mandatory elements relating to land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise and safety. The elements of a city’s general plan must be internally consistent. All city actions must also be consistent with the general plan by law.
What is difficult for some folks to completely understand is that the option of building Meadowpass Road was decided many years ago. The development of Marlborough Ridge, Belgate, Landaluce, Hunter's Hill and several other neighborhoods was permitted that the assumption that Meadowpass Road was to be completed. In fact, several of the developers of the adjoining neighborhoods contributed to the building of Meadowpass except the small segments that are yet completed.
While understandably some residents who will be affected by the traffic are genuinely upset, unless extremely serious or clearly compelling environmental issues are identified, the roadway must be completed in accordance with the General Plan. That is the law.
While I have always favored the road be completed, I will be bound by any compelling information presented at this meeting.
6-1-08 It is duck season in Walnut. But not for hunting. Please take some time to take a late afternoon or early evening walk through Snow Creek Park. Make sure you walk in the meadow north of Snow Creek Road. The creek is teeming with wildlife. There are virtual clouds of pollywogs in the water. Mallards are raising their young and red tailed hawks are overhead looking for food.
When you take a walk, check out the dozens of new trees and first class improvements to the baseball fields in the park. Our laser leveled baseball fields at Snow Creek and Creekside Parks are rated the tops in California. Teams come from all over the State to compete in Pony League tournament games in Walnut.
If you are lucky you will see one of three great egrets that fish Snow Creek for crawdad.
If you live on the west side, take a stroll through Lemon Creek Park and see the improvements we have made with the assistance of the San Gabriel Rivers and Mountains Conservancy.
While you are there, take along a bag and pick up any trash that might have ended up in the stream. If you see damage to the hiking and equestrian trails or grafitti call City Hall at (909) 595-7543 or make an on line request on the City website at www.ci.walnut.ca.us.
The city has 26 miles of hiking and equestrian trails. 19 miles are exclusively maintained by the City. The County of Los Angeles maintains the remainder. It is important when a trail is in need of repair or a hazardous condition exists that residents let the City know to avoid an accident.
4-14-08 The Meadowpass Road project has been delayed again. The City Council voted to extend the review period of the Meadowpass Road project. Both City staff and the City Attorney recommended not to do so. I was the lone vote opposing this action.
The Walnut General Plan specifically calls for opening this obstructed roadway, and creating a scenic area. If the Council stalls this project, then the private owners of this land will likely move forward to place homes in the area and this open space area may be obliterated. Two thousand notices were mailed out to Walnut residences. The only people who showed up at the Council meeting were a handful of local residents who are directly affected by the opening. In my view, the majority of Walnut residents already expect this road to be completed.
The affected opponents to the project felt that they needed more time to read the report, hire their own experts, and one suggested we mail the 1500 page report to every resident.
A City Council puts a community in jeopardy when it fails to follow the adpoted General Plan which is the blueprint for the community.
Some critics of the roadway have suggested that I am not environmentally sensitive to the issues of the roadway. My response is that I authored the policy on preserving open space, wrote the oak and walnut preservation ordinance, and negotiated the aquisition of the largest open space obtained in the City of Walnut.
As City Council members, we are morally and legally bound by a set of policies and principles to work for the public good. Preferential considerations or requests by individuals or groups of citizens are expressly prohibited by the City Code of Ethics.
Our decisions are to be based on merit, and community needs. Our decisions are not to be influenced by victory celebrations or political contributions received from residents of a particular neighborhood directly involved in a decision.
We are not drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We are simply completing an important secondary street in the master plan of the community which has been designated as needed since the General Plan was adopted in 1978. Entire neighborhoods were constructed with the expressed promise and defined need for this important roadway.
Neighborhoods like Belgate who use Country Hollow, or Marlborough Ridge (particularly those living on Walnut Canyon Road, Sunset Bluff and Peach Blossom) streets have been awaiting this promised street opening since building the homes in 1988.
My two daughters took a bus to kindergarten or first grade because this street was not opened. Now one is married and they both graduated from college. That’s twenty years.
The delaying tactics used by the small group of opponents against this street has been one of the most costly wastes of taxpayer dollars in the history of Walnut.
Last year alone, we lost a $300000 plus grant to restore Lemon Creek simply because we failed to adopt an easily implemented mitigated negative declaration.
The small amount of road remaining to be built covers a drain pipe, not a stream. There are no homes facing the remaining segment of street.
Three weeks ago, the Pomona Fairgrounds tore up a nearly equivalent amount of asphalt and did an off road event. They have now replaced it with new asphalt.
This road initially was going to cost around a quarter million dollars. Every day it is stalled, increases its cost and the costs to hundreds of Walnut residents who have to add an additional four miles in driving each time they pick up or take their kids to school.
The folks who bought the six homes on Meadowpass Road will see an increase in traffic on their road. That is a fact. It was also a fact disclosed to them when they bought their homes. We cannot deprive the rest of our Walnut resident’s access to emergency services and a higher quality of life.
When I ran for City Council two years ago, I was honest and open in saying this road should be completed. I was easily the highest vote getter. It would appear that we hid the ball from the voters this past election. If we delay or do not move forward on this project, we do worse. We outright defraud them.
The uncompleted segments are simply an illegal dumpsite, and have even had medical waste dumped there. We can beautify it to make it look more attractive than the Snow Creek Area on Grand Avenue.
When finished, the improvements will greatly enhance Walnut’s quality of life.
Sometimes it is tough making decisions that will make a few people unhappy. That comes with the territory. But I have heard every one of the Council members promise that they support Walnut’s General Plan and will preserve and promote open space. This project does both.
More delay of this project is unacceptable and breaks that promise.
The San Gabriel Mountains and Rivers Conservancy can help provide a compromise solution that preserves the natural urban environment, and allows access to emergency services to the neighborhoods adjoining this area. Hopefully they will become involved and preserve this area.
4-08-08 Tom King attended a birthday celebration honoring Senator Bob Margett who is soon to retire as Walnut's State Senator in the 29th District. The event was held at the Chandelier Room of the Turf Club at the Santa Anita Racetrack. In attendence were Edward Rollins, a frequent political commentator on CNN and Fox News Channel. Rollins was the Director of the Office of Political Affairs for President Ronald Reagan, and managed his re-election campaign. Also in attendance was Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill.
4-30-08 Tom King announced today that Ernie Quejado will be the his new Parks and Recreation Commissioner for the City of Walnut. Ernie is an engineer for the Boeing Corporation C-17 program and brings years of volunteer experience in leading the Calamba-Walnut Sister City program. This was the first sister city program that was cost-neutral to the City of Walnut, and is self supporting. Ernie is a regular volunteer at Walnut events and is active in the Walnut Family Festival.
4-15-08 Tom King traveled to Sacramento, California to testify in the California State Assembly on behalf of AB 1888 which establishes uniform criterion for "Heritage" schools in California.
The bill is modeled after Walnut Ordinance 25-26.6 which was written by Council Member King to standardize child protection for tutoring and other child related business in the City of Walnut.
4-14-08 It's Official! Nancy Rene Tragarz won Tom Sykes' seat on the Walnut City Council. The vote difference was 1170 for Nancy Renee Tragarz versus 1123 for Mayor Tom Sykes.
4-10-08 At long last the Meadowpass Road extension Environmental Impact Report has been released. The comment period ends on May 26, 2008. The public hearing is scheduled to be on June 11, 2008. The extension has been planned since 1978 and is in the General Plan as a proposed secondary street in the City of Walnut.
4-8-08 Preliminary election totals show that Tony Cartagena and Joaquin Lim have retained their seats on the Council. Nancy Renee Tragarz is leading Mayor Tom Sykes by thirty-nine votes. Final results will be announced on Monday, April 14th. There are approximately three hundred absentee and provisional ballots left to verify signatures and count.
If Nancy Renee Tragarz wins the contest, then I will have an appointment to make to the Parks and Recreation Commission. If you are interested, call Joyce Wright at (909) 595-7543 for an application. I am not interested in a "political appointee". I don't care who you support on the council. If you have the desire to serve the community on the Commission, please turn in an application. Participation of an active Commission ensures that Walnut's parks remain the best in the San Gabriel Valley.
Congratulations are in order to all of the above mentioned candidates for running a clean, non controversial election. Walnut will be well served by any of the above candidates.
3-18-08 On a personal note, my father Mervin Paul King passed away. My brother Terry gave his eulogy. Then I gave a tribute to him from a police officer's point of view, since we were both former LAPD officers.
In 1946 dad was discharged from the Navy and went into the LAPD. As kids, we always went to Navy day in San Pedro, and went on ships like the USS Los Angeles, the Midway and the Nautilus. Last year I called dad from a spot on the USS Midway where he took us fifty years ago. He would take us down to the mothball fleet in San Diego and explain what was a destroyer, or a heavy cruiser to us. Dad was a patriot and proud of his Navy and his Country.
In LAPD, dad worked a variety of assignments, including traffic enforcement. One of dad’s very few shortcomings was a tendency to have a few accidents. Like the time he and his partner got a call on Mount Washington and they lost both wheels at the bottom of the hill when they bottomed out in an intersection. In those days the car did not even have heaters. Once a streetcar rear ended him and broke his Christmas cheer. But dad was always friends with motor pool supervisor and the body shop. They kept him out of trouble for the next 30 years.
Dad made Sergeant and was assigned to Shootin Newton Division. I found out what that meant when he came home one night after having been shot in the leg. I asked him what happened to the other guy. He said the guy had a new belly button. I later found out he spared the life of the guy he shot. That was my dad.
Before work he would always proudly shine that LAPD badge.
You have no idea of the amount of pride we had as kids when dad would come home, unload his pistol and give us a hug
When he worked morning watch, I would sneak out of bed to listen to the radio calls on station KMA367 which was at the top of the AM dial of the old white radio on the yellow table in the kitchen. I would listen to a ratio operator dispatch calls to my dad while he was working in the wee hours of the morning.
I know he caught on once, because I asked him where Fickett Street was.
I learned what an ambulance cutting was. (assault with a knife) A 459 man on the way, (burglary call) and what a signed stolen (stolen vehicle) was on the hot sheet. (a list of stolen cars) Sometimes we even had the old hot sheet in the house. Mom always wondered why I was so hard to get up in the morning.
In the day time, when most other cops were sleeping, dad would take my brother and me to Wrigley field at 41st and Avalon. We got to catch foul balls hit by Steve Bilko and even pros like Willy Mays when they came to play. While we were in the stands we watched our dad single handedly arrest the drunks in the bleachers. Sometimes he would get in fights, but he always won. Later when I became a police officer he gave with me his secret weapon, the Newton Sap. (a small billy club)
There were even a couple of times when I was a kid when he gave me a dime and drove me to a pay phone to call MA 4-5211. When the police cars would go screaming to the next block, there would be my dad with a couple of fur coat burglars on the ground with a pile of loot.
Dad had a marvelous career, and of course he is often recognized in helping develop the surveillance unit, now called SIS and his work as the field commander of the SLA shootout, and the Alphabet bomber and the Firestone kidnapping.
He always backed his men who remained his friends. They are all great men, Bill Lovold, Dan Bouser, Bill Heins, Jerry Cremmins, Lee Castriuta, Arleigh Mcree and countless more. The true test of a man is his family and his friends.
He strongly believed in the unusual concept of mutual cooperation with outside agencies like the FBI. Had our law enforcement agencies understood that concept, there never would have been a 911. When he retired, the entire LA office of the FBI came to his dinner.
But that is not what he is most known for. He was best known for being respected as a nice guy. He treated both suspects and fellow officers as gentlemen. He treated all people with dignity regardless of their social status or background.
I followed my dad’s calling to law enforcement. I also learned to be friends with the guys in the body shop. Even the day I took my entry oral, the board asked me. “How’s your dad, he’s great guy. If you are one tenth the cop he was, you will fine.”
I was told the same thing literally hundreds of time in my career.
When I worked Newton Street myself, not just police officers, but folks I would meet in the community, from the Christmas tree vender, a block captain, to a small business owner, even the old groundskeeper from Wrigley field would often ask me “How’s your dad, he’s a great guy. Chief Reddin, Chief Davis, Chief Gates and Chief Parks have all asked me that same question.
Well, Dad's just fine. He will always be a great guy. The hardest thing I have had to do in my life was to try to walk in his shoes. That was the hardest thing until today. That’s because today I have to say "Good by."
Dad, thanks for being the person in my life who showed me how to brave in times of trial. I am who I am because of you. Thank you for the joy you brought to all around you. I love you and will miss you the rest of my life.
Mervin Paul King, Retired Captain for the Los Angeles Police Dept. passed away on March 18, 2008 in South Pasadena, CA. He was born August 1, 1914 in San Francisco as the only child to the late George and Geneva King. Spending the greater part of his life as a resident of Alhambra, CA, he was dedicated to his wife Pauline of nearly 68 years, and their family including children Terence Michael, Thomas Patrick, and Kathryn Mary (Brandlin).
He honorably served in combat operations in the Pacific Theatre of World War II on both the USS Hutchins, a Fletcher-class destroyer and the USS Markab, a destroyer tender. Appointed in 1946 as a Policeman for the LAPD, and appointed Captain in 1970, he completed 30 years of service upon retiring in 1976.
Throughout his service the Los Angeles Police Department he received more than 50 Commendations from both Department and outside agencies for his dedication to duty and recognition from outside law enforcement agencies. He never once received a personnel complaint.
His recognition included that of the Los Angeles City Council for supervising the investigation of the Alphabet Bomber and the improvised-explosive-device detonated at Los Angeles International Airport. Commanding police efforts in the 1974 S.L.A. shootout led him to be commended by the City Council again for his supervision of the Symbionese Liberation Army investigation, one which "broke the back and thrust of the SLA".
An admirable leader in law enforcement, he will be remembered most for his genuine soul characterized by selfless compassion, commitment, and charming wit. We will never forget his loyalty to his Catholic faith, his impeccable knowledge of baseball game schedules, his enjoyment of golf at Almansor Golf Course, and the love that flowed inherently outward with his voice.
He is survived, loved, and missed by his wife Pauline; children Terry & Pam King, Tom & Margie King, and Kathy & Steve Brandlin; grandchildren Kimberly, Brian & Aleasha, Christopher, Laura, Kelly, Annie, Katie, and Krissy; great-grandchildren Michael, Luke, Megan, Garrett, and Grant in addition to a lifetime of neighbors and friends. A Memorial service is planned on Tuesday, March 25th at Calvary Cemetery 4201 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles (323) 261-3106.
3-10-08 It is election time, and that seems to bring out the worst in some people. Sadly, a false and misleading anonymous letter is being distributed by a City Council Candidate. It alleges that there are improper relationships between City Council members and the City of Industry and a local real estate firm. The letter takes umbrage with my wife scheduling my fundraisers at the City of Industry Hill's Avalon room, (a gorgeous location) and misleads who ran and financed my campaign. It alleges campaign kickbacks, describes meetings which did not occur.
The distribution of false, misleading and anonymous campaign literature is a CRIME. At my request, the matter has been referred to the District Attorney Public Integrity Unit.
It seems that elections both locally and nationally are now becoming mud slinging contests. Issues and accomplishments should guide a voter in making a choice. Voters should always be skeptical of slate mailers, paid for by candidates, and especially unsigned material which is both illegal and most often fraudulent.
3-06-08 A misleading candidate sponsored mailer was mailed to City of Walnut voters. The mailer stated the City Council spent $108,000 to install a red light camera at Amar Road and Grand Avenue. It also states that only one traffic light related accident occurred since 2004. The candidate has been informed he is incorrect, but has not made any effort to correct his misinformation.
I will try to set the record straight. The traffic light camera does not cost the City any money. The cost of the camera installation came from fines collected from Traffic Court. The majority of the fines collected go to the Traffic Court which sets the fine, not the City. A portion goes to pay the monthly cost for the camera which is contracted to ensure no net cost to the City. There have been two fatal accidents at the intersection in the last few years. (One was a heart attack suffered by a passenger during a collision.)
The red light camera system was installed because forty red light violations occurred in a one day monitoring period. When 1200 redlight violations occur at one intersection in a month, the City would be negligent not to do something. The placement of a police officer at the intersection around the clock is impractical and not cost effective.
The camera has reduced violations substantially. One of the most common accidents prior to the camera being installed was rear-ender accidents caused when a driver stopped to allow a red light violator through the intersection. Prior to installation of the camera, 32 recorded accidents occurred in a three year period. Numerous other accidents occurred, which were not reported to the Sheriff's Department.
There first full month that traffic tickets were issued, 623 citations were issued at the intersection. The last recorded month, January 2008, 201 citations were issued. That indicates that the cameras accomplished their intended use, reducing traffic light violations. The money that is collected by the City at this intersection is earmarked for traffic enforcement.
The intersection and Amar Road is now scheduled for a complete rebuild, including double left turn pockets in the near futurer. Funding was obtained in 2007 and the bidding process is underway.
The mailer alleges that the City wasted $500,000 to slow the already approved Three Oaks Project by litigating over an endangered species. Again, this statement is incorrect and deliberately misleading. Three Oaks had what is called a vested tract map. Over a dozen approvals remained to be granted prior to grading the project. It was far from approved at the time of litigation.
Upon reaching a settlement with the City, the developer provided the City with a cash payment of over $800,000 which grossly exceeded the cost of the litigation. The settlement with the developer resulted in the city acquiring 400 acres of open space, valued at over fifty million dollars. The City received 2.5 miles of new equestrian and hiking trails. A nine acre community center site was graded for the city at a value of $500,000 part of the settlement. The settlement was the largest aquisition of resources in the history of the City of Walnut.
The City Council majority was extremely concerned about the status of the BKK toxic waste dump on the west side of the property. The clay cap had collapsed, and vinyl chloride was leaking into the air. The proposed homes were slated to built downwind. There was a half mile gap in the air monitoring stations on the east boundary of BKK. Dozens of homes in West Covina had detected unsafe readings vinyl chloride or methane
I worked closely with with B.B. Blevins, the Director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) which seized control of BKK and declared a "State of Imminent Endangerment." The BKK dump was repaired and the responsible parties were sued for maintaining the dump by DTSC.
The repair of the BKK toxic waste dump eliminated our delay of the project. This open space transfered to the City will be preserved for the future generations of Walnut. This land was previously part of the BKK property, owned by a subsidiary, Walnut Land Company.
A proposed golf course, which would have taken two years to complete was cancelled. Golf courses are in recession in the United States. The number of golfers is steeply diminishing each year. The cost to maintain municipal courses have skyrocketed due to increases in the cost of labor, water, electricity and chemicals related to petroleum. The City would have taken over ownership of the golf course if no private buyer was found. It was clear that the proposed course would have been an attractive addition to the homes, but likely a tremendous drain on City resources.
Endangered species was only one tool used in the lawyers' legal tool box to slow the project until the State seized BKK and declared a "State of Imminent Endangerment." After the State repaired the project, the City moved forward on approving the project.
The mailer criticised the City Council for not openly opposing a proposed Zen Center due to traffic concerns. The Planning Commission did not approve this project and the applicant did not appeal their decision.
The City Council members cannot make a pre-determination of a project until it is presented for approval or appeal. To make a pre-determination places the City in legal jeopardy and denies an applicant due process. An applicant has a legal right to appeal or propose a project before the Council or the Planning Commission and present it's project for consideration.
It is unfortunate that the myths being promoted in this mailer are a repeat of another fraudulent mailer two years ago. It is troubling when someone misrepresents the truth for personal gain. Repeating a falsehood does not make it the truth.
2-20-08 Tom King endorses Parks and Recreation Commissioner Nancy Tragarz for Walnut City Council. Tom previously endorsed Mayor Tom Sykes for re-election.
2-18-08 FIOS is coming to Walnut. Construction started in the Collegewood and Walnut Ridge area on FIOS high speed internet, digital telephone and HDTV fiber optic service from Verizon. This is intended to give Walnut residents a choice of service providers besides Charter Cable digital and analog television, high speed internet and digital telephone.
Recent regulations have deregulated services which gives the City of Walnut limited control over the installation of FIOS in the public right of way. If you experience difficulties with the installation, contact Pauley Construction at (909) 637-0444 or contact Assistant to the City Manager, Chuck Robinson at (909) 595-7543.
City staff have contacted other service providers, including Richochet Networks to discuss wireless internet and other services in the community. The current competetion from Cellular providers such as Verizon and Sprint 3G service have not led to competetive solutions for City provided Wi-Fi.
2-15-08 LAPD Swat officer Randy Simmons was laid to rest. I did not know Randy on a personal basis. But I remember him very well when I worked LAPD as he and his partner were hostage negotiators a case I handled called the Rainbow Man hostage crisis at the LAX Airport Marriot.
I remember him as a deeply religious young man who used his deep personal convictions to negotiate with a religiously crazed gunman. I remember what a fine young man he was. He was the living embodiment of an LAPD Swat Officer. They are the best of the best. We have all suffered a tremendous loss.
2-14-08 The Walnut Zen Center did not file an appeal of their denial of the Planning Commission for a larger facility at 20836 Marcon Drive. Today was the last day to file an appeal to the City Council. The Abbess of the Chung Tai Center wrote the City Council to express her displeasure with the actions of the Planning Commission. The project will have to be resubmitted as there are no more administrative appeals.
2-3-08 Tom King endorses Senator John McCain of Arizona for the Republican Presidential Primary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH6oxEp05cw
1-23-08 Collegewood Area has been approved for street slurry repair. The project will be done during school spring vacation to lesson impact on neighborhood.
1-23-08 Traffic Signals have been approved for Carrey Road and Lemon Avenue
1-22-08 Heavy rains are forcast. Please ensure that your children stay away from creeks and flooded areas. Sandbags are available 24 hours a day at LA Fire Station 61 at the corner of Lemon Avenue and La Puente Road.
Please pick up any throw away papers. Debris basins at Kelso and Pierre Road suffered $30,000 damage from accumulated trash and other debris.
1-3-08 2008 City of Walnut Financial Report
2002 Total Primary Net Assets: $32,746,432.00
2007 Total Primary Net Assets: $80,294,693.00
2002 Total Fund Balance: $23,027,192.00
2007 Total Fund Balance: $26,494,015.00
2002 Net Fund Change: ($4,385,327.00)
2007 Net Fund Change: $2,713,301.00
2002 Taxable Property: $2,408,312.00
2007 Taxable Property: $3,330,697.00
The City General Fund balance is approximately $18,000.000.00. The Walnut Improvement Agency Fund Balance is $11,665,803. which represents a $2,236,000.00 increase over the prior year. The cash and investments portfolio of the Improvement Agency is $12,054,171.00. The long term bonded indebtedness of the Agency is $37,570,954.00.
Your community remains financial stable and able to meet the challenges of a changing economy.
1-2-08 Tom King endorses Mayor Tom Sykes for Re-election to the Walnut City Council.
10-10-07 Engineering approved for Amar/Grand intersection. This project has been underway for two years. MTA approval now means that construction to open intersection to three lanes will be in approximately June 2008. Construction will be done in the evening hours, where possible to lessen impact on this busy intersection.
MTSAC is considering opening an access road to the east of the Wildlife Sanctuary to ease northbound traffic on Grand Avenue at Amar Road. There is likely to be considerable opposition from the students and faculty who support the wildlife sanctuary.