Readers comments 8-24-18

Feel good Almanac

Dear Editor:

Just a note of appreciation and congratulations on a really excellent “feel good” COURIER Almanac showcasing Claremont’s amazing volunteers.

In a climate of harassment of the media with everything being labeled “fake news,” it was uplifting to read about Claremont’s many volunteer organizations and committees and the incredible number of citizens in our community who continue to give generously of their time and expertise.

The highlight, though, had to be the amazing life-saving story involving Leo Tessier and Andy Dale. As Leo’s father, Ed Tessier, noted, there were many well-meaning people at the soccer field that day, but it was Andy Dale, a remarkably quick-witted volunteer, who sprang into action to save Leo’s life.

As a mother and grandmother, this miraculous ending to a story that could so easily have gone another way made me grateful, and it also reminded me that I need to get some updated first aid training!

Your focus on Claremont Heritage was an opportunity for us all to give a shout out to the city of Claremont for the lead role it has taken over the years in preserving select historic buildings in town—thank you Judy Wright and some forward-looking city councils!—and the resulting creative adaptive reuse of those venues.

Actually, Garner House was not “bought” by Claremont Heritage, which I’m sure was a simple oversight by the writer, but it is leased to the organization by the city.

The Claremont Museum of Art is in a similar position with the historic Santa Fe Depot. We are extremely grateful it was carefully preserved and that CMA has the good fortune to lease the building from the city.

We enjoy showing off the interior of the Depot to visitors as much as the art and artists we exhibit. We are halfway through a careful restoration and remodeling of the structure, with plans for phase 2 on the near horizon.

As a totally volunteer-run organization, none of this would have been possible without the support of the city and the generosity of the Claremont community.

Mary F. Wies

CMA board member


Question conformity

Dear Editor:

In last week’s special Almanac edition, COURIER editor Kathryn Dunn lamented that she—as a self-described “fiscally-responsible Democrat”—took some heat for suggesting that the city watch how it spends our money. She also ruefully noted that no one from the city offered an “impartial analysis” of her suggestions.

There is no question that our city officials have been poor stewards of public funds, and arrogantly dismissive of residents who dare to question their decisions; and had Ms. Dunn ever used even a few inches of column space to critically scrutinize expensive city projects, or made any effort to hold public officials accountable for their mistakes, it may have been possible to take her complaints seriously.

Claremont just lost $14 million pursuing a meritless lawsuit that was dismissed at the earliest stages of litigation, while the city attorney’s own firm pocketed millions of dollars on the deal.

Predictably, the members of the city council have refused to hold themselves or anyone else responsible for the costliest disaster in Claremont’s history; and when the city finally abandoned its frivolous appeal last year, the COURIER published a column by Councilmember Larry Schroeder in which he falsely claimed that the city had warned the public all about the enormous costs and risks of the lawsuit.

One might think that as a fiscally-responsible newspaper editor who cares about how the city spends our money, Ms. Dunn’s reaction to this scandal would be “How did I miss this story?” Instead, her response was—and continues to be—”What story?”

This should come as no surprise to readers of last week’s column, as Ms. Dunn made it clear that her real concern is not fiscal responsibility or political integrity, but rather that some residents of Claremont dare to hold opinions which differ from each other—or more importantly, from the Claremont party line.

Did you use social media to express an opinion on the latest bond measure? According to Ms. Dunn, you are “turning to the dark web” to spread acrimony. Take into account a candidate’s political affiliation? You are a polarizing threat to “community-based governance.”

In other words, ordinary citizens like you and me need to keep our mouths shut and get with the (COURIER-certified) program that the “smart people” have decided on.

Ms. Dunn has set the standard by ignoring the loss of millions of dollars on a project that she personally endorsed, and allowing Mr. Schroeder’s self-serving distortion of the public record to stand unchallenged in her own newspaper.

Unlike Ms. Dunn, I believe that hard-fought political disputes are the hallmark of a healthy civic culture—and that any proposal to borrow and spend millions of dollars ought to be greeted with extreme skepticism.

If anything, we have been too complacent, too agreeable, and too eager to overlook the foreseeable consequences of reckless decisions. We literally cannot afford another big mistake, and I view the vigorous debate over the police station bond as a hopeful sign that Claremont residents are finally waking up to this reality.

Jim Belna


[Editor’s note: Mr. Belna, I have no control over decisions made by the council. Our coverage of the attempted water company takeover was extensive. Yes, we endorsed Measure W, and I would again, because I?don’t believe water is a commodity to be sold to citizens for profit.

What voters could not have predicted was that the city attorney—a firm that Claremont has since parted ways with—was not going to fight tooth-and-nail to win it or that the council was not prepared to demand competency. To suggest I have ignored the loss of millions of dollars is unfounded. Given your concern over the city’s dire financial health, perhaps we’ll see your name on a ballot soon. —KD]


Identity politics 

Dear Editor:

Reading the current issue of the Claremont COURIER’s Almanac, I especially appreciated the column by editor Kathryn Dunn. 

As with other of her offerings over time, I am again reminded of my mother, who was one of many of her family members to work in the newspaper business. These included her father, as well as all of his eight brothers, and their father.

My mother’s older sister worked for the Dallas Morning News, while her older brother served for many years as the city editor for the old Herald Examiner in Los Angeles. During the years around my birth almost 78 years ago, her brother and my father owned and operated a small  newspaper together.

I have enjoyed—and learned from—a number of Ms. Dunn’s columns in our weekly issues of the COURIER.

In the current issue of the Almanac, she notes that city staff recently launched a “core values” campaign, “asking residents to suggest words or phrases that best define Claremont.”

While I expect others to come up with something more clever or more notable, the words which came to my mind while reading her column were “The city that cares,” for Claremont seems to have an unusual number of people who volunteer to serve the community in one capacity or another.

Many of our volunteers have served in a multiple number of various ways, to the extent that one realizes they must not often spend a quite evening at home. I would not be as aware of such, were it not for Ms. Dunn’s many fine columns.

I am sure many Claremonters will join me in saying “Thank you!” to Kathryn Dunn for her own contributions to making Claremont an even better place than it already was when we moved here over 42 years ago.

Don Fisher





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