Readers comments 1-19-18
Tis the season
Last month, Republicans in Congress delivered a big, sparkly, $1.5 trillion Christmas gift to businesses. At the same time, they filled the stockings of many individuals with coal. Big, beautiful lumps of clean coal from West Virginia, of course.
Not to be outdone, the Claremont city council, in recommending a general obligation bond to fund the new police station, also delivered a big, sparkly Christmas gift to businesses. Their gift of $2.75 million to commercial property owners means individual homeowners will be on the hook to the tune of an additional $5 million.
As a result, families with young kids and new mortgages will pay much more for the new facility than almost everyone else. Perhaps the council believes businesses and tax-exempt entities don’t benefit from investments in public safety. Or, if they do, at least they don’t have to pay for it.
I presented the council with several options to reduce the total cost of the parcel tax option and, in turn, save individual homeowners $5 million in property taxes. However, in the end, the council chose to maximize the cost to individual homeowners and blame the failure of Measure PS solely on the financing mechanism (which, by the way, was a completely different type of parcel tax), rather than the fact that no one was willing to spend $50 million on a 47,000 square foot building in the middle of a gravel pit overlooking beautiful San Bernardino County.
On top of that, the council voted to put the bond issue on the ballot this June without having any information on what the additional operating/maintenance costs will be for the much larger facility.
Yes, city administrators told the council that operating costs per square foot will be lower than what we’re currently paying. But that doesn’t mean total operating costs will be lower. At more than two and a half times the size of the current facility, total operating and maintenance costs will almost certainly be much higher.
To move forward on a vote without the public knowing how much higher and where those additional funds are coming from is yet another example of spend first and ask questions later.
Planning the station
I am in favor of a new police station. I have toured the old one and there is no doubt that it must go. However, before I can support the 25-year general obligation bond measure, I need some more information:
1. I would like to see a cost-analysis that would compare the costs of contracting LA County Sheriff services for approximately the same time period as we could expect usage of Claremont’s proposed new police station. We need to compare the costs of these two possible options.
2. I would also like to view the proposed budget for the new station. The budget should only itemize equipment that the public can reasonably assume will last for the new station’s duration. I see no point in financing non-durable equipment in a 25-year bond.
Non-durable equipment should be budgeted within the city’s annual operating costs. It is my opinion that items like computers, communications equipment, vehicles and other equipment that we do not expect to last for at least 25 years should not be included in the bond.
Where police services are concerned, I want to ensure that we pursue the most fiscally-responsible path.
Charles “Chuck” Kaufman passed away in August in Everett, Washington, where he had been residing the last 14 years or so. He was, if I remember right in my own dotage, 77 years old. I had only recently learned of his passing, hence this letter to the editor.
For those who remember Chuck, he was the community library manager of the Claremont Public Library, a position which he held from 1998 to 2002, having previously been the community library manager of the Hacienda Heights Public Library for many years. He also served as a librarian for the Los Angeles city public libraries and had been a Navy officer during the Vietnam War.
In many ways Chuck was “Mr. Los Angeles County” or, at least, “Mr. Los Angeles County Libraries,” to paraphrase a colleague, Stu Rosenberg. He epitomized library service, not just being a typical librarian sitting behind a desk, purchasing books and occasionally talking to the public and city government.
Chuck was an innovator who believed that a public library should be much more than checking out books and videos—that it should be a community cultural center.
During his tenure at Claremont, Chuck brought in book signings by nationally- and internationally-known authors, concerts by local musicians including John York, the VITA income tax help for seniors and the poor, art showings and was very active with the Friends of the Library book sales.
He oversaw the arrival of the public internet computers. He would occasionally “cross swords” with county library management in his quest to provide our customers with the most excellent service, excellent programming and a collection that was second-to-none.
As said, he wanted the library to be much more than a building filled with books. He wanted it to be a cultural center in every sense of the word, and he was quite passionate about this. I know, I worked quite closely with him as his deputy.
Chuck worked very closely with the city of Claremont, with the city manager and the council, and with the Friends of the Library, whose president at the time was the former editor and publisher of the COURIER, Martin Weinberger.
He listened very closely to public concerns, and during times of county cutbacks always ensured the library stacks would be filled with the latest titles, DVDs and videos.
He was well loved and respected by those in the city and the Friends of the Library. He was always encouraging to his staff, and while he might have worked us hard at times, he was working himself much harder for the community and for those who served with him. Under his leadership, we were truly a “team.”
The last thing I’d like to say is that Chuck was a “mensch.” He cared for people, and when my grandfather passed on years before we both worked in Claremont, he took time off to be a pallbearer at his memorial service. For the rest of my life I will never forget this, nor will I forget Chuck.
I am proud to say he was not just a boss but a dear friend and colleague who I will miss greatly.
Baruch Dayan Emet, Chuck, RIP.
Claremont Public Library 1999-2004.
College presidents lend support
[Editor’s note:?The following letter was addressed to Phil Washington, CEO, Regional Rail, with a copy forwarded to the COURIER for publication. —KD]
Dear Committee Members:
We urge you to vote no on eliminating Metrolink train service to Claremont in 2021.
The Claremont station provides members of The Claremont Colleges, an internationally-recognized consortium of seven institutions, with accessible and affordable public transportation.
Many of the 3,600 staff and faculty members who live outside Claremont commute to work by train and walk or bike to campus from the station. Conversely, many of those who have chosen to live in Claremont have family members who rely on Metrolink to connect them to educational or work opportunities in San Bernardino or Los Angeles counties.
Because few of our 7,700 students have cars, a very significant number rely on Metrolink transportation to do off-campus research and participate in hundreds of internships and volunteer at community organizations throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties.
For more than half of the students at The Claremont Colleges who benefit from our generous financial aid programs, affordable public transportation within walking distance is a necessity.
We believe that the abundant resources in the Los Angeles area—for scholarly and creative endeavors, career opportunities, and recreation—distinguish us from comparable institutions across the country and the world, and have a strong appeal to prospective students. Losing train service to Claremont for five years will have a negative impact on students who are weighing their college decisions and on the recruitment and retention of staff and faculty.
In addition, the artistic and scientific contributions of our faculty along with our museums and other cultural attractions add to the economic vitality of the greater Los Angeles area.
Further segregation of the eastern most part of Los Angeles County will undermine the collaboration and contributions we need to move our county and the world forward.
Please support the continuation of the Metrolink train service to Claremont.
G. Gabrielle Starr
President, Pomona College
Interim President, Claremont Graduate University
President, Scripps College
Melvin L. Oliver
President, Pitzer College
Hiram E. Chodosh
President, Claremont McKenna College
President, Harvey Mudd College
Sheldon M. Schuster
President, Keck Graduate Institute
Clara Oaks development
Fire and flood. Sustainability. Development of our hillsides.
As of last week, the city of Claremont hired a private consulting firm to conduct an environmental review of a proposed 47-home development in our wildlands just above Webb Schools. Cost to city tax payers for this consulting work? $302,590 plus an extra $75,000 for additional expenses that may come up in the approval process.
Get your money’s worth and tell them what you think about developing on our wildland urban interface in a very high fire hazard severity zone, as defined by Cal Fire.
Char Miller, professor of environmental analysis at Pomona College, recently wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
“Yet if city officials and county supervisors, and related zoning commissions and planning boards, continue to permit construction in what Cal Fire describes bluntly as fire hazard severity zones, even more homes will be at risk for fire first, and then the slides and floods that follow. The pattern will keep repeating itself as this region, already suffering from a fire-fueling seven-year drought, becomes hotter and more arid in response to a changing climate.”
Pamela Casey Nagler
Trump the racist
The president, by his most recent racists statements, is neither protecting or defending the soul of our Constitution. We, as citizens of this country, along with the world community are embarrassed and insulted.
All elected officials—from city, county, state and federal levels—should condemn the president’s statement and congress should take immediate action, using the powers invested in that body, to remove Donald Trump from office.
There is no room or legitimacy for racism and bigotry at any level of governance. Officials who fail to condemn the president’s behavior can be assumed to be sympathetic to the president’s behavior.
Past utterances from the president have been mitigated or excused by saying “the president speaks for himself” or “That is just Donald being Donald.” Those phrases can no longer be used to explain the racism and bigotry from the Oval Office.
The president’s behavior is shockingly alarming, but the silence by a large body of elected officials in congress is just as upsetting.