Readers comments 7-21-17
Death of the heritage groves
Although Claremont is proud to be called a “City of Trees,” we don’t have any ordinances that would protect them, and, indeed, only have two groups of trees identified as “heritage groves”—the elms on Indian Hill and the eucalyptus on College Avenue.
The dead tree in last week’s photo published in the COURIER was part of the College Avenue heritage grove. This tree is on the property where Pomona College intends to build its new academic museum.
Although Pomona College wanted to remove this previously healthy tree, the college was required to maintain it as a mitigation measure for being allowed to demolish the cottages and displace Renwick House. In spite of this requirement, only a few months after approval of the Master Plan, the tree has met its death from neglect.
It was the responsibility of Pomona College to see that this tree was watered and protected from the effects of demolition and construction, and it has failed to do that. Simply planting a new tree that will be an equivalent size in 50 years is not going to be adequate recompense for allowing this existing member of our heritage grove to die.
A perfunctory hand-slap is not enough. The city should require Pomona College not only to replace the tree but to pay a very hefty fine in the many thousands of dollars. The size of this fine should be large enough to deter future developers from contributing to the death of a tree that is inconvenient to them but that is of considerable value to the rest of us. The city might also forestall future problems by reassessing the likelihood that the other terms of the Pomona Master Plan will be honored.
What is the point of having mitigation measures or rules for a project if they can be easily ignored or side-stepped? Not following through on them should have serious consequences.
On Monday evening, July 17, Claremont’s Community Services Director Roger Bradley led a dialogue on Community Choice Energy Aggregation. That’s a program where Claremont’s SCE customers could choose to have up to 100 percent of their electricity purchased from SCE come from non-carbon fuel sources such as wind and solar.
In the near future, the Claremont City Council will need to decide if the city is going to join the program so we would have that option. Would it cost more—or less? How would the program be managed? What are the pros and cons? All that and more was discussed and videotaped.
If you would like to learn more, and perhaps take a position on whether the city of Claremont should sign on to the program, consider watching the videotape at sustainableclaremont.org. The tape, edited for clarity, should be posted by the time this COURIER is published, or soon thereafter.
Obamacare and its various repeal-and-replace failures are all spinning their wheels. They have all been political attempts to address complicated healthcare issues, and none of these plans have directly addressed the central problem: How can we protect and promote the health of every single person in this country?
What we need is a truly comprehensive healthcare program. How about a percentage of the gross wage (seven percent?) as a payment from everyone in the country who receives a wage for universal healthcare coverage. That includes Bill Gates, the greeter at Walmart and everyone in between.
That would eliminate any further personal health insurance costs, as well as the injury line item for automobile and property insurance. It would eliminate Medicaid and Medicare, as well as additional funds for military and veteran care, because everyone in the US would already be covered. Employers would not have to negotiate health plans. And not one red cent would have to be spent by government for anybody’s health insurance, ever again.
It would allow the single-payer coalition to negotiate with hospitals, doctors, suppliers and, best of all, with big pharma to reduce the runaway costs. We need to be able to put some muscle behind our call for reasonably priced medical care, hospital access and appropriate supplies and medications for all 323-plus million people in the US.
Rather than pay into mushrooming profits for insurance companies and their investors, we need to demand that our collective hard-earned cash goes directly toward our medical care and well being.
It’s time to join the rest of the world and really make affordable health care a priority in the United States.
A seat on the board
On Monday evening, my wife and I attended Sustainable Claremont’s monthly dialogue to learn about the Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which LA County is establishing to provide electricity at a discount below Edison’s rates and to enable us individually to choose the percentage of our electricity that will come from non-carbon sources. Unfortunately, very few residents attended, which was a shame, because this is an important opportunity.
If we electricity users want to have the choices and savings we can get through this JPA, our city council has to opt in. Doing so quickly will give Claremont a seat on the JPA board, while the number of cities represented there is still small and while the board is determining how the JPA operates.
Claremont will have more influence on the future of the JPA if it joins now than it would have if it waits to join later, after the founding decisions have already been made and after the board has grown in size as more cities that opt in are on the board.
Our city council will take it up when they return from summer recess. This will be an important decision. I hope that many of us will get involved to support the option of discounted electricity rates, greener energy sources and an influential early voice on the JPA’s board.
Anyone who wants to learn can visit lacounty.gov/about-lacce/. LACCE stands for Los Angeles Community Choice Energy.
Election Integrity Commission
This letter is in reply to Ellen Taylor, as spokesperson for the League of Women Voters, regarding the Election Integrity Commission (EIC).
I absolutely agree with Ms. Taylor that “Voting brings us together as Americans” and I concur that it is “one time we are all equal.” Based on my 30 years of experience as an election worker and poll inspector, I can support her assertion that President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud are indisputably false in the city of Claremont.
However, I know firsthand that our voting system needs correction. There are many voters on the roster who have not lived in Claremont for decades; and I know people who moved out of state two years ago, reregistered to vote in that state, and still receive an active vote-by-mail ballot from California. A county registrar once scoffed to me that Claremont’s occasional mistakes “are nothing compared to the rest of the county!” That flashed a warning flag, because even a few mistakes multiplied by many precincts can cause catastrophic results nationwide.
I am inclined to favor the study of all states’ voting regulations and practices to ensure that every citizen’s right to vote is guaranteed. The EIC sounds like a good idea to me because it is solely an advisory entity with no legal or policy-making power. I do not see why the League would object, since they identify themselves as a body which studies, reports and makes recommendations without political bias.
When Ms. Taylor reported that “The so-called ‘Election Integrity’ Commission…requested personal and confidential information from all 50 states that threatens the privacy of all Americans” I knew she knew what she was talking about. Her position regarding honoring an upright citizen’s right to privacy is well-established in this community, and it comes as no surprise that her public statement reflects a staunch protection of the civil liberties which we all cherish.
I fully understand that some people are alarmed at the amount of information the government and other entities have gathered. These people may be shocked to learn that the voters’ “personal and confidential information” Ms. Taylor referred to is already public and open for viewing at every polling place at every election. Perhaps this is one of the policies the commission might suggest changing.
I am a non-partisan voter, and I believe that election integrity is a non-partisan issue. I know that according to its non-profit corporation documents, the League of Women Voters describes itself as a non-partisan organization, so it would seem to follow that they would want to present a balanced perspective considering all political viewpoints.
I researched the 15 members of the EIC, and the list represented multiple political parties, with several Secretaries of State from diverse parts of the country. Members of all parties see the benefit of honest and accurate elections, and the American people must have confidence in the integrity of voter registration and the voting process. I agree with Ms. Taylor that we must tell our senators and representatives that we will not let anything stop us from exercising our right to vote.
In unfailing support of fair and honest elections, I am hoping this “giant fishing expedition” of the commission, as Ms. Taylor calls it, will net some fishy practices and unfair regulations that have been discriminatory, improper and unjustly suppressive of legitimate voters.
I thank the EIC and the League for their continued efforts to better our community and our nation.