Readers comments 12-23-16

Now you’re stealing

Dear Editor:

This is an open letter to the children who frequent Rosa Torrez Park after school.

The screaming, fighting and dashing out in front of our cars, we tolerate.

You are kids and need to blow off some steam after school, we get it.

The littering, smoking, inappropriate sexual behavior and the destruction of property—well, you’ve heard us yell out our windows at you, which does little good. But now you are stealing from us. 

The Christmas decorations you stole from my neighbor are family heirlooms, meant to be handed down to the next generation in that family.

They weren’t yours. You should not have taken them. She saw you, asked you to stop it, could not chase you because she was caring for her two small children. But you ran away with them. And the rest of you did nothing to stop it and would not help us. 

I know most of you are good kids and you are just trying to fit in, have fun and grow up. But this is unacceptable. Now, more than ever, it is important that we take care and respect each other. The future of our community and our country is up to you.

To the rest of the Claremont community, two vintage plastic figures (the kind you put a light in) shaped like a tree and a gingerbread man were stolen from a home on First Street. If you see them, please contact the Claremont Police Department.

Andrea Bennett



Rethink the water decision

Dear Editor:

Moving forward with the eminent domain proceedings against Golden State Water Company is not in the citizens’ best interest. I sat through the city’s presentation a few years ago and saw that the breakeven for when our bills might be lower as a result of the takeover could easily be 18 years from now. Those calculations were done before the massive movement in California to reduce our water usage.

The past few years, just about every Claremont water user has either made capital investments and/or taken actions to reduce water consumption. Personally, I had no idea that we could lower our water bill by over 30 percent and not have our landscaping die by being much more strategic with our watering patterns. Even if the drought was declared over, I would never return to my old ways. I just don’t want the expense.

I am confident that thousands more people within the community would behave in the same manner. They certainly are not going to tear out their new xeriscape and replant their lawns. As a result, most of the city’s past water calculations are wrong.

Unfortunately, there are way too many people in this process who have a vested interest in continuing despite the recent ruling against Claremont. Lawyers, consultants, city staff, council and past proponents of the water bond all have huge incentives to continue just to save face. It’s okay to be wrong.

One of my favorite economic concepts is that of Sunk Costs. This means that a decision should not be made based upon what has already been invested, but decisions should be made only if going forward is still the right thing to do. We should consider ourselves lucky that the drought happened and we were forced into water conservation mode before we owned the water company. Otherwise, the residents would be stuck paying for the water company spread across substantially less water usage.

The city needs to substantially analyze the new data and be truthful to determine if it makes sense to move forward. My gut is the answer is no, but I am willing to be wrong. I believe our city’s leadership would be much more impactful to stop this process and invest substantially greater resources each time Golden State applies to the Public Utilities Commission for a rate increase.

Let’s hire great consultants and lobbyists at great cost and fight back against the increases.

Although Claremont has fought in the past, it has never been with remotely close to the zeal that the city has pursued the acquisition of the water company.

I would much rather see the city drop $250,000 into lobbying the PUC than spend the rest of our lives paying the costs of a water system we likely should not own.

Let’s keep conserving water so we can keep our bills down relative to Golden State’s other consumers. Let’s not keep going down a road that might end with us going over a fiscal cliff just because we already decided to go down this road. It’s okay to turn around.

Brad Umansky



Reject campaign finance riders

Dear Editor:

The League of Women Voters strongly urge citizens to oppose all campaign finance riders and other “poison pill” riders to any CR or omnibus bill to be considered in the remaining days of this Congress. 

Last year, “poison pill” campaign finance riders were enacted in the Omnibus Appropriations bill to prevent the IRS from doing any work on new regulations to govern the political activities of section 501(c)(4) organizations, and to prevent the SEC from issuing any final regulations to require public corporations to disclose their political activities to shareholders. In September 2016, Congress passed a CR that extended the SEC rider.

Unsuccessful efforts also were made last year during the FY 16 Omnibus bill negotiations to add other campaign finance riders. This included riders to do away with the presidential public financing system and checkoff fund, to repeal the longstanding limits on the amounts parties can spend in coordination with their candidates, and to prevent the Obama Administration from issuing an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending. 

The presidential public financing system served the American people and presidential candidates well for more than two decades until it became outdated. The system needs to be repaired, and not eliminated as the rider would have done.

The unprecedented role played by the super-rich and outside spending groups in the 2016 election has made an overwhelming case for providing candidates with incentives to raise small contributions from millions of ordinary Americans. Candidates need an alternative means to finance their presidential campaigns without becoming obligated to big money funders.  It is essential to keep the presidential financing system in law to provide the framework for updating and repairing the system in time for the next presidential election. 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has a vital role to play in ensuring corporate transparency for shareholders. More than 1.2 million investors and members of the public petitioned the SEC to create a rule requiring uniform corporate political disclosure, the most signers to a petition in agency history. The congressional rider, however, would prevent the SEC from issuing such a regulation. We urge that this rider be dropped. 

Congress also has blocked the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service from issuing new regulations regarding the political activities of 501(c) groups. This prevents revised regulations from being issued that would provide nonprofit groups with a clear definition of political activities and would provide increased disclosure of secret money contributions being spent in our elections. 

In preventing a rule-making, Congress is leaving in place a chronically broken IRS definition that allows those willing to game the system to pour millions of dollars of secret contributions into our elections. At the same time, Congress is leaving nonprofit groups without a clear definition of what constitutes political activities, thereby making it difficult for groups to determine the nonpartisan civic activities that are allowable.

We urge that this rider be dropped. Any effort to rewrite the nation’s campaign finance laws and to restrict related campaign finance measures must be done by regular order and through the legislative process. This should not be done by a back-door misuse of the appropriations process. 

Ellen Taylor

VP for Advocacy Claremont LWV



Proposition 54

Dear Editor:

So let me see if I understand this. The voting public of California passed a Constitutional amendment to require 72-hour notice before a bill is passed.  This would supposedly give time to interested parties to review and/or take exception to the bill before it is jammed down our throats by a self-absorbed legislature and signed into law by an overzealous governor.

Since the legislature didn’t like this particular restriction, they “interpreted” it as only applying to any future legislation when it goes to the final body, Senate or Assembly, for approval or change before being presented to the governor for signature, rather than when the first body is about to approve it.

This shortens the public’s chance to review and respond and is especially important at the end of any session when the majority of bills are passed in haste, thus overwhelming the public with no time toreact before another bad bill or group of bills is passed into law.

It is time to apply pressure to the legislature to change the way the amendment is written and “interpreted” by them and give the public a maximum, rather than minimum time for review.

Hayden Lening



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