Readers comments 11-10-17

Fantasy Island

Dear Editor:

Mayor Larry Schroeder’s fantastical and self-serving piece in the November 3 COURIER begs for a few clarifications.  The first of which is that he and his council cost the city some $11,000,000 in real spendable cash—the polar opposite of the entirely notional and hypothetical savings of $5.8 million he claims to have arranged.

He places the blame for the water company eminent domain debacle squarely where he thinks it belongs: on the citizens of Claremont. He takes up Councilmember Corey Calaycay’s electioneering slogan about citizen-driven policy to shuck his and the council’s responsibility.

He avers that the city was transparent.  Now he adds the qualifier “as possible.” Not so. In fact, since the effort kicked off early in 2012, there were some 36 closed session meetings on the water company where strategies were concocted and council minds made up. The 15 public meetings he refers to were mere municipal eyewash: a kabuki theater of posturing and the strange Claremont four-minute microphone ritual that passes here as civic discourse.

In fact, and bizarrely, Mr. Schroeder refers to a conclusion by his crackerjack appellate firm Horvitz and Levy that “our chances of winning on appeal were slight.” The thing is, even that anodyne but very interesting conclusion was not conveyed at a public meeting. The city knew it.  Golden State knew it because the city began negotiations. The only stakeholder left in the dark until October was the public.

He takes great credit for disclosing what were already public documents: court filings and city staff reports. Thanks, Mayor Schroeder.

And he blames even this parsimonious disclosure with disadvantaging the city negotiating position. To which one can only reply that the lay of the land for a public agency is well-known, and maybe he and council should have taken that into account.

As it was, the council hid the so-called feasibility study for months until a lawsuit by Golden State pried it loose. It was rife with errors and unrealistic assumptions that were later exposed in court.  But nobody in the hallelujah chorus of Claremont Outrage, The League of Women Voters, Claremont FLOW, city council, city staff, BBK or the local press bothered to figure this out. The judge did.

It is absolutely clear that council and probably its attorneys failed to understand even the basics and risk of the law on taking a water system. It should have been a red flag when the court threw out the original resolutions of necessity, and forced the city into a do-over.

But no doubt BBK and the city attorney quickly scheduled a closed session—wouldn’t want anything to leak out or real thinking to leak in—and hypnotized the five potted plants with the mantra, “nothing to see here…”

No one would claim that the citizens voted to lose $11,000,000 down the rat hole. Nor did they willingly acquiesce to it. When was that vote? Rather, it happened because city council, the city manager and the city attorney played a cozy game of hide-the-ball from the public. At least 36 closed-session meetings.  Already the city manager and the city attorney have been shown the door, but there’s more than a whiff of scapegoating in that whole exercise, though they both are richly complicit and culpable. The house-cleaning shouldn’t stop there.

Donna Lowe

Claremont

 

Neighborhood design

Dear Editor:

The mention last week of the creation of a citizen’s hotline to report developer’s failures to adhere to mitigation measures has prompted me to write.

I am not sure how this is intended to differ from the current contact options we have. In any case, is there any guarantee that such reporting will ever result in significant penalties?

I, along with a number of others, wrote and spoke to the city about Pomona College allowing the heritage eucalyptus on the museum site to die, but not one of us has heard about what penalty has been imposed. If all that results from reporting is a slap on the wrist or the equivalent of saying “Bad boy, you shouldn’t have done that,” what is the point?

While I’m at it, I also would like to mention that instituting a program to train citizens how to speak to the council, commissions and staff may be helpful for those few who are not articulate, but completely avoids the larger problem that providing opportunities for people to speak is not the same as ensuring that what they say is actually heard and considered seriously. So I suggest the city also institute equivalent training for our elected, appointed and hired bodies to improve their listening abilities.

And lastly, just because Pomona College has agreed not to object to the city starting to consider a neighborhood preservation ordinance does not mean they won’t immediately start to object once one starts to be drafted.

The city council agreed several months ago to create a committee to develop neighborhood design and landscape guidelines and the time to start that is now. Why is the city dragging its feet?

There is absolutely no reason to wait for a new law firm or city manager to be hired as they are not part of the proposed committee. For the benefit of both the public and developers, it should be started now.

Please let the council know that creating this committee, which only requires the mayor to appoint a few people, should be at the top of his list.

Susan Schenk

Claremont

 

Founding women of Claremont

Dear Editor:

The only female member of “The Old Guard.” The matriarch of the Padua Hills Theatre. The woman responsible for the beautification of our town. The first female to earn a letter in sports at Pomona College. The woman who simultaneously held the post of principal of Claremont’s first three schools. The woman who acted as a bridge between the Hispanic and Caucasian communities during segregation.

In Memorial Park this past Sunday, the Girl Scouts of Troop 1094 hosted more than 200 Claremont Girl Scouts and their parents for the Founding Mothers of Claremont. In this interactive living museum, six women from Claremont’s early years came to life, telling their inspiring stories of how they were instrumental in sowing the seeds of art, culture, education, diversity, inclusion and civic responsibility within our community.

 The success of this event was aided by the generosity of many in our community. 

Our sincere gratitude goes to Claremont Heritage for use of the Garner House and the Ginger Elliot Gallery, most especially Heritage staff Kristen Fass and Sean Stanley for their help with historical resources. Also, our appreciation to Susan Pearson of The Bath Workshop for use of a very cool button-making machine and supplies and to Joan Bunte for her energy and encouragement.

Further thanks to Nicki and Russell Heskin, Chuck Ketter and Brandon Pugno for helping the event run smoothly and to Troop 1314 Cadettes Riley Fass, Priscilla Centeno and Sky Wall for helping younger scouts write their own stories detailing how their lives add to Claremont’s history.

Moreover, we are indebted to the scouts and leaders of Claremont who came out to inspire and empower young girls and teens with stories of extraordinary women from our town’s early beginnings.

 Lastly, we wish to express our deepest gratitude to Claremont’s gem, the late Judy Wright, whose book, Claremont Women 1887 to 1950: They Created a Culture, was the source for all of the moving and motivating stories we shared.

 It is our plan to share the Founding Women of Claremont interactive living museum at a future date with all members of the Claremont community.  We hope you will join us.

The Girl Scouts of Troop 1094

Merry Aichele      Ruby Berke

Lucy Chinn      Fiona Henry

Jenna Heskin               Mae Key-Ketter

Lilly Pugno  Cece Selznick

Leah Key Ketter     Holly Pugno

 

Gun violence

Dear Editor:

I was reflecting on the recent mass shooting at a small Texas church. (I retired early and have lots of spare time to reflect.) After the Vegas shooting, a friend commented to me that surely now we’d see politicians step up to the plate and come up with some reasonable and meaningful gun control measures.

And maybe (at last) we’d stop hearing the nihilistic NRA-inspired line that any attempt to infringe upon America’s Second Amendment rights would be meaningless and accomplish nothing. (I guess that implies that America is full of violent psychopaths right out of some Quentin Tarantino movie, so don’t try to stop ’em with any liberty-crushing laws). 

Being a hard-core cynic (I just renewed my annual membership a week ago), I pointed out that if the shooting up of some 20 young kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago didn’t get the gun-control ball rolling, nothing subsequent to that would do it.

And let us not forget the recent Colorado WalMart shooting (three dead) and Republican Steve Scalise getting shot at a Congressional baseball game practice session several months ago!

So Vegas, Colorado and now Texas:  nearly 90 dead in those three recent events. Yet the eight people killed on a bike path in New York City—by a guy who thinks ISIS is worth renting a truck at Home Depot and possibly dying during his misguided terror spree—got far more attention because he was not a run-of-the-mill white guy with a variety of (anger?) issues. 

I’m clearly too old to pack up and move to any number of progressive countries that have (in a per capita apples-to-apples analysis) insignificant violence by guns, so I guess I’ll just have to suck it up until a texting driver takes me out in a crosswalk or some disgruntled gun-totting yahoo uses me for target practice. And if all goes well, old age may even get a chance at me in the end.  

Last, am I the only one who feels like the phrase “our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families” is sounding more and more like that robotic retail store cliché, “Have a nice day”?

Don Linde

La Verne

 

Indian Hill

Dear Editor:

With a letter-writer proposing a name change for Indian Hill Boulevard, I’d like to set some of the history straight by saying, it’s complicated.

The indigenous people of the Los Angeles Basin had names for other tribes, but not for themselves. They self-identified with the name of the village or rancheria where they lived.

For those who lived around Claremont, there are only scant records that indicate this would have been the village of Torojoatngna—the Place Below Snowy Mountain. There were additional rancherias in the Claremont/Pomona/San Dimas area.

Hugo Reid, the Scotsman who married an ex-neofita from Mission San Gabriel, identified one of these villages as Toybipet, Tiboina or Tojvingna—all variants of the same name.

The Spanish referred to those conscripted into the Mission at San Gabriel as Gabrielenos, but contemporary descendants have rejected that colonial name and adopted Tongva meaning simply, the people. Earlier endonyms have been recorded—Kizh and Tobikhar.

Some have suggested that Claremont’s Cahuilla Park is a misnomer because the ancestral rancherias of the Cahuilla are located to our south, with the cities of San Bernardino, Redlands and Yucaipa forming a dividing line. However, after the Mexican government secularized the Spanish missions in 1834 (in one of the biggest land grabs in history), the so-called “emancipated” natives from the southern missions fled north seeking work.

Many Cahuilla ended up in the Pomona/Claremont area, some of them working for the Palomares and Vejar families at Rancho San Jose. Many lived on “Indian Hill,” a traditional village that became a 19th century encampment for members of various tribes, as documented by Bess Adams Garner in her book, Windows of an Old Adobe. Long story short, the Cahuillas are part of our history, too, if not part of our ancient history.

What happened to the original inhabitants of Indian Hill? It is likely that many were taken to Mission San Gabriel in raids orchestrated by the padres and mission soldiers with the aid of Indian auxiliaries formed from the native mission populations.

Mr. Reid, who came to Los Angeles in the 1830s, documented that in the 1810s and 20s, the mission padres ordered raids on indigenous villages in the Chino/ Pomona/Claremont/La Verne/San Dimas areas to supply labor for their vast land holdings and growing agri-businesses. Soldiers and mission Indians ambushed entire villages and forced them to Mission San Gabriel, where they were segregated.

After secularization and during these migrations, the Californios and Anglo-Americans began to refer to all the ex-neophytes from the missions with the generic term, Mission Indians—a name that stripped them of their regional tribal or village affiliations, just as they had been stripped of their ancestral lands.

It’s our own California story of indigenous diaspora that started with the missions, but continued through the successive centuries. In 1883, Helen Hunt Jackson, of “Ramona” fame, characterized the Southern California Indians as living on the outskirts of white settlements, “like gypsies in brush huts, here today, gone tomorrow, eking out a miserable existence by days’ works.”

Local historical societies have suggested that those who passed through Claremont were serranos, a Spanish name for some of the mountain and desert tribes that lived beyond the edges of the Los Angeles basin. While this may be true, they were not the people who inhabited this region.

The actual word, Indian, dates much farther back to Columbus who wished he had discovered the Indies or Spice Islands, and called the Taino of the Caribbean, Indios. The term stuck and successive waves of conquistadors extended the usage. It’s not easy to correct 500-plus years of misrepresentation and exploitative colonialism.

It is my hope that going forward, we find ways to honor the presence of indigenous people in the city. Personally, I have long hoped that city hall would showcase a mortero (an acorn grinding stone) or other such local artifact that would remind us of Claremont’s historic past.

Pamela Casey Nagler

Claremont

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