Readers comments 2-10-17
Teens in the Village
I would first like to express my apologies to the mother of the young girl who was injured. No parent or child should ever have to go through something like that. I hope she recovers quickly and that things are resolved properly. While the article mentions that the fight took place at the parking structure, readers should know that it was on the top level, a place where no child should be unless they are with their parents who have parked there. There was no reason for any of those kids to be up there other than to avoid being seen.
Why does this mother feel the school should be held responsible for the fight? Once school is dismissed, no matter what time it is, the children are the responsibility of the parents, even if the child isn’t with the parent because the parent allows their child to go out to the Village, the movies, a friend’s house, etc.
Does she believe that if both schools had let out at their usual time these kids wouldn’t have gone up to the parking structure and the fight would have been avoided? If another student was injured at the mall or a friend’s house that day should the school be held responsible for that, too?
Perhaps the Claremont Police Department does need to look into having more officers in the Village on Wednesdays and Fridays but parents need to realize that it is not the school’s, officer’s or business owners’ job to babysit and watch over their kids.
Village attack on teen
I had heard of this attack on this young woman through a neighborly connection site, and my heart went out to her immediately. I, too, have been beat up, and was regularly bullied while in middle school and I can still feel the fear—not only of being in school, but of leaving school and being in that vulnerable “no man’s land,” where seemingly no one that is an adult dare be responsible or help upon seeing such a situation occur.
Thank goodness for that woman that lives on the streets, who did have the courage and accountability to step in and protect this young person from even more damage. I hope that she was given some respect and some care, and I hope the young person attacked, and her family, can heal both physically and emotionally.
What I wanted to express, however, was my frustration at seeing the description of the attackers as being inter-district transfers and from Pomona.
I cannot understand why that information is included, as it is not at all relevant to the situation. This seems to be a form of code, as it has always been, for either black students or Latina students. And if not that, then certainly a not so subtle commentary that our Claremont girls certainly aren’t capable of such things. This is not true, of course. Hurt people often lash out to others, and that can, and has happened by Claremont students in the past and likely will again. Living in Claremont does not make one immune to pain, pressure and violence.
Whether this is racism (systemic) or classism or a combination of both—this shady speak regarding the students from another city needs to end. It’s elitism, and that has no place in my Claremont.
[Editor’s note: The COURIER’s longstanding policy regarding crime is to always print the city of residence of both victims and suspects and include physical descriptions, if available. In the case of a juvenile involved in a crime, we only print city of residence and the school of attendance. If the juvenile is being tried as an adult, we would name that individual. The crime report published last week on the incident made no reference to ethnicity, nor was there any intention at “shady speak,” as suggested here. Any assumptions made by readers regarding the ethnicity of the suspects or victim involved are their own. This was a serious incident among community teens, which resulted in a child suffering a concussion and requiring medical treatment. From the COURIER’s standpoint, we hoped to prompt discussion about an issue we see as three-fold—online bullying, physical altercations among teens and what the school district’s role should be in responding to activities of students off campus. —KD]
Water appeal must continue
COURIER reporter Matt Bramlett accurately reported the special city council meeting on January 31 and the council’s unanimous agreement to move forward with an appeal of Superior Court Judge Fruin’s ruling against the city. I think it is worth summarizing the reasons the city must appeal.
First: The cost. If we accept this negative declaration, we must pay all our own legal costs, plus all those that Golden State Water can claim—their reported costs are very high. The case is closed; there is no recourse. If we win, GSW pays their own costs and ours can be amortized by water revenue bonds. Are legal costs eating up the city’s General Fund? No, money is already set aside for the legal fees.
Second: Long-term expenses from GSW water bills are much greater than legal costs. Water bills in Claremont now pay Golden State more than $9 million a year to pay dividends to GSW stockholders and extravagantly high executive salaries. Moreover, our rates were higher than all our neighbors 10 years ago. In the last 10 years, GSW rates have gone up 100 percent, while our neighbor’s rates have only gone up an average of 25 percent. Now, GSW has already filed their next rate increase request with the California PUC (Public Utilities Commission). Rates keep going higher, year after year!
Third: What chance do we have of winning? No attorney can tell you he or she will win a case. Three legal firms suggest the judge did not listen to the arguments and ruled inappropriately. We have a new attorney for the appeal and various optional directions from which to choose.
Fourth: If this negative ruling stands, it goes into California case law and reduces future opportunities for cities to go to California courts to establish longtime rights to use eminent domain. Ojai won their eminent domain water case; Claremont should help protect that right.
Fifth: All California cities have been told they should maximize local water supplies to reduce reliance on imported water. Golden State has no interest in increasing local supplies; they make more profit from selling imported water. The League of Women Voters has a state- funded feasibility study of Thompson Creek Spreading Grounds, which says that storm water stored in our aquifer could increase its yield by 40 to 120 percent. GSW originally wrote a letter offering to cooperate in this project, but now they refuse to let it move ahead.
Sixth: GSW rejects attempts to save water and charges more if we conserve. The Claremont Colleges have plans for two small reclamation plants to provide reclaimed water to use on their grounds and playing fields. GSW says if the Colleges build these plants, they may not sell extra water to any other local user. Residents already feel this ruling—if we save water, the PUC allows GSW to charge all users WRAM fees to keep GSW profits high.
Local ownership and transparency in financial affairs are the answer to these issues. Claremonters must remain solidly behind local ownership of our water operations.
Value of the appeal
Freeman Allen’s letter (“Water Appeal”) contains much of the magical thinking that got Claremont into this $13 million (and counting) hole.
First, he suggests that if we simply keep spending money on legal fees, someday we won’t owe any legal fees. It’s magic!
Second, he states that the new appellate lawyers believe our chances of victory on appeal are “reasonably good.” However, the city’s staff report noted that approximately 20 percent of appeals are granted. I don’t consider 20 percent to be “reasonably good,” but maybe Dr. Allen and I just have a different definition of “reasonably good.”
Then more magical thinking. “If we win, we will have the right to take over the water system…” In reality, if the city prevails on appeal, it will have the right to another trial on whether it is entitled to take over the water system.
An appellate court might limit the scope and evidence to be considered at the new trial, so it is possible that the retrial would cost less than the original trial, but we are still looking at an additional seven-figure legal bill.
Per the staff report, it is “unlikely” that an appellate court would simply overturn the trial court and substitute its own findings. Who knows? Maybe something magical will happen.
Assuming there is no magic at the appellate court and the case is returned for a retrial, if the city prevails at the retrial, there will likely be appeals.
Let’s assume, magically, those all go in favor of the city, then there will be another trial on the valuation of the water assets. And more appeals.
And it has already been conceded that a successful takeover of the water assets will not result in Claremont residents paying less for water.
Now, I can be disregarded as a grumpy fiscal conservative who never supported this water company takeover. I’m a failed school board candidate. Worse yet, I’m a lawyer (I think I’ve now covered most of my alleged intellectual shortcomings). But, I’m also not a big believer in magic. I am a realist who understands that no amount of magical thinking will shorten the litigation process, eliminate the costs or result in any resident of Claremont saving any money on their water bills. However, kudos to Dr. Allen. On January 31 the city council, having no plan or answers of its own for this moment, doubled down on magical thinking.
The future of the Bernard Field Station
At the February 6 council candidate forum that focused on sustainability and heritage issues, the following question wasn’t chosen:
“The 85-acre Bernard Field Station represents the natural habitat that once covered Claremont. Development will reduce native plant and animal populations along with the rare coastal sage scrub ecosystem, and increase Claremont’s energy and water usage. Pitzer College is the only college that has committed to retaining most of the habitat on the part of the BFS it now owns. What will you do when Harvey Mudd, Scripps and Claremont Graduate University propose to build on the parts that have been sold to them?”
I hope the candidates will think about what the future should be for the land that many have called “Claremont’s wild heart.” Their unedited responses about what they believe would be the best outcome for the city as a whole will be posted on the Friends of the Field Station website (fbbfs.org) if they send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.