Readers comments 10-26-18
Killing the police committee
Apparently if you accept a paid job as a consultant to the city it is allowable for the city council to completely abuse you while humiliating themselves in the process. Fortunately for the council, they’re so out of touch they may not realize just how horrible their behavior was.
I am a member of the police station committee, but I am writing this letter as John Watkins, Claremont citizen, as I don’t speak for the committee.
For those who haven’t gone to the city website to watch the Tuesday, October 23 city council meeting video, I highly suggest you do. Bring your popcorn, because just the section dealing with the police station goes for about an hour. It’s an absolute embarrassment.
Mayor Opanyi Nasyali and Councilmember Sam Pedroza were impolite, entitled and flat out obnoxious to the engineering firm that was hired as a result of the police committee’s desire to review the potential of retrofitting the existing police station. Kudos to Tara Schultz, the new city manager, for trying to slow down the council’s assault by injecting facts, but facts were not what the council was interested in. Facts are clearly what they were trying to avoid.
The police committee requested a new seismic study, which was presented at the committee meeting last week. On Tuesday, the study was then presented to the council by the engineering firm that was hired to conduct it. In the seismic study for the other two failed bond measures, the previous engineering firm was not asked to review a retrofit option by the previous city manager or this council. Whether it was an incompetence issue with the RFP or whether it was purposely left out of the scope, a new study is required in order to review whether Claremont can add on to the existing building to potentially save costs versus a tear-down and building a brand new structure.
According to the new firm, it turns out that adding a second story to the existing structure is feasible and may (or may not) be the best option to get the police what they need for the future and to provide our officers a safe working environment.
In order to get a more accurate price estimate, the council was asked for $15,000 to do a more complete seismic review of the current station. A second request for $15,000 to review the city yard building as another possibility was also presented to the council. This is something that I (as a police committee member) would demand in order to do the job I have been asked to do: Discuss every option possible to see if Claremont can get a police station feasibly.
Almost immediately, when the engineer began his presentation, the council interrupted him ad nauseam with questions that in many cases were nonsensical, misleading or ill-informed. This continued for around an hour. These are the same council members who supposedly reviewed the last two police bonds when they approved them to send out to voters. What basis did they have for approving anything if they didn’t even know if the building could be added on to?
During the meeting Joe Lyons once again had a temper tantrum about the COURIER being the source of mistrust for the current council. Seriously? Somehow it’s the COURIER’s fault that this council keeps stepping all over themselves and has made terrible decisions like both police measures and the water company issue that put Claremont in massive debt?
During this meeting, the city council did not approve the funding for the study that the police committee needs in order to review retrofitting as an option. They have made it impossible for the police committee to do its job. They may as well have disbanded the police committee by doing this.
Why don’t they want the committee to consider adding on to the existing facility as a possibility? One potential answer is that they don’t want residents to see how much unnecessary debt they would have saddled Claremont with had the first or second bond passed.
But don’t take my word for it. Watch the video. It’s an embarrassment, and the two gentlemen who we invited here to present the study—and paid them to do—are owed a collective apology from all of us who live here. After all, we elected the council that treated them that way.
Reece is a leader
My name is Jon Strash, a resident of Claremont for about seven years. I own a small business in town, which interacts with city and county governments on a daily basis, and am a retired commander of investigators for a local district attorney’s office, the 10th largest in the nation.
I oversaw the political and corruption units, internal affairs and all sensitive cases for the county. In my last year overseeing the political corruption unit, we indicted 33 public officials, and investigated numerous others.
I currently serve on the Claremont Police Commission, am the training manager for an Orange County police agency, an HOA president and athletic booster former president and vice president in Claremont, and adjunct professor at two colleges in administration of justice. I am writing as a “private citizen” and not on behalf of the police commission or any other entity.
I have never written to a newspaper in my life, other than press releases, and do not get involved in politics, until now. I read the endorsement regarding Ed Reece’s lack of leadership abilities and the newspaper’s support of three specific council candidates, under the ruse of “editorial staff” and “urge Claremont voters to elect.”
Although newspapers endorse candidates, actually urging Claremont to vote for specific candidates is something I have never seen and I am dismayed.
On October 19, your article stated you “are pleased to offer our support to” and “our staff unanimously selected…as a frontrunner this campaign.” I thought better of the COURIER, which I have subscribed to since moving here in 2012, and interacted with regarding high school athletics.
I have served with Ed Reece on the police commission as his vice chair and as a commissioner for over four years now. I have served on police review and policy and procedure ad hoc committees, and various others.
I have seen him lead and I have seen him take a stand. I have seen him interact with the public at many functions, as well as at his business here in town. I believe with over 35 years of experience dealing with a wide variety of people, I can read a person pretty well. He is a good leader, not just a leader, there’s a big difference, and takes a stand when necessary.
I don’t recall seeing your reporters at many meetings unless at special occasions. And of course, you are not privy to the special committees that are not open to the public, or his personal business ventures. There’s a big difference in watching a candidate on a panel for election, versus in actual leadership roles.
I noted that you are willing to endorse candidates based solely on their “promise to collaborate, listen and serve” and “we believe…intelligence and receptiveness will help.” Mr. Reece has proven his collaboration, listening skills and service to our community. This editorial in no way projects any of my opinions regarding any other candidates. This letter is simply my opinion on how your paper is handling this election.
I believe your paper should give opinions in editorials and report on what you have seen and know. In my opinion, to give support to, and urge others on how to vote specifically, should not be your place as our “newspaper.” But I guess I would rather know exactly where you stand, then to try and guess. Thank you for your time.
The spirit of Claremont
In Ted Trzyna’s article “The Spirit of Claremont: Seven Virtues That Keep Our Town a Good and Special Place,” I was surprised to observe that under Virtue 6 “An Inclusive and Tolerant Community” there was no mention of the important work of the Claremont Committee on Human Relations (CoHR) in advancing this virtue.
As an institution established by the city in 1996, resulting from Ku Klux Klan literature strewn across neighborhood lawns, CoHR functions under the stewardship of the community and human services commission to monitor hate crimes and incidents occurring within the community.
In addition to its important watchdog function, CoHR is equally dedicated to helping to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for residents in the city as well as for guests.
Through educational programs, events and supportive policy measures, CoHR’s very mission is to advance respect for the diverse nature of American society; under which our governance structure, based upon democratic morality, promotes the inherent value and dignity of each and every individual.
There are venues for recycling some items that the city cannot take. Some examples are:
Schools are happy to receive gel packs that they refrigerate and use for injured students; Plastic film from stores, dry cleaners, newspapers, etc. can be deposited in a bin inside Sprouts Market; Any brand of worn-out athletic shoes can be taken to the Nike store in Ontario Mills; Wine corks can be taken to Bev-Mo; REI co-op stores will recycle bicycle tubes; Household batteries can be taken to the Claremont Library (due to re-open soon); Outdated or unneeded medicines can be taken to the Claremont Police Department.
There is a campaign
If I might correct the record. In the October 19 COURIER, page 3, it was stated, “we couldn’t get over the fact that [Mr. Lyon] didn’t run a campaign…we believe it’s critical for someone seeking office to make a concerted effort to interact with constituents.”
I wish to let the whole community, and the COURIER, know that I am still running a campaign. My sore feet can attest to the hundreds of doors I’ve knocked on already around town in order to reach out to everyone, and not just to those who choose to attend a scheduled meet-and-greet.
If, ultimately, I don’t make it to your door, I apologize in advance.
I streamed the city council meeting Tuesday night and was compelled to write this letter. An issue of trust was put forth with regard to the expansion or rebuilding of the police station and I found the lecture belittling.
It is our job as responsible citizens to not trust blindly those elected to speak on our behalf, even those for whom we have personally backed. Part of that citizen responsibility is to seek out details of how our collective dollars are allocated, to not forget old bonds that are maturing and consider ways to re-arrange existing allocations to meet current needs.
A long-winded rant about how the credibility of our council has been compromised and the attack on our local paper in an attempt to reveal that there is more to this than meets the eye was out of line. On the contrary, we should be thanking those who have the wherewithal to step forward and articulate, with facts, legitimate concerns about this entire effort.
Of most concern is how documents were altered for different meetings. It is absolutely illegal if that sort of thing were done in a court of law, where the paperwork of council varied from one party to the next. And what was that whining about Claremont being broke?
This agenda item turned into a “poor us, feel sorry for us hard working representatives, feel sorry for our police department,” when it should have been an objective review based on facts, of all options with open minds for possibilities that were not considered before.
And as a side note it should be mentioned that for the current year, Claremont general fund revenues are higher than last year by almost $700,000. We are doing well. We do not need a miracle to provide a decent police station. And we especially do not need stubbornness to brush over new information as if it is toilet paper.
Alice Marie Perreault
It has been a policy of newspapers to give their support to candidates in an election. I can accept that. However, I cannot accept the personal attack on Ed Reece, one of the council candidates.
It is not only unfair and rude, but shows a lack of respect by your editorial staff. If you choose to make endorsements, be professional and choose by qualification and experience. Leave the personal judgments aside, as they are only your opinion.
The voters are savvy enough to sort out the candidates that meet the need. Shame on your staff for being so caught up in personalities that they overlook background and experience.
Referring to your recent endorsement of the council candidates, I would like to call into question the decision to not endorse Michael Ceraso.
I have heard the rationale proposed that Mr. Ceraso has not done enough work on committees, been involved for long enough engaging in Claremont civic activities, and similar reasons for forestalling his recommendation. I argue that these are not necessary prerequisites for being a city councilperson.
Mr. Ceraso has impressed me with his depth of knowledge on the issues. At numerous forums I have heard him address many of the most talked about Claremont challenges: the police station, homelessness, budget deficits, the Metro Gold Line and trees and the lighting district. With all of these it is obvious that he has looked at the issues in depth and truly seeks solutions.
I have ascertained that the overriding theme of his campaign is his willingness to do the work of guaranteeing that all citizens have the opportunity to be civically engaged with the city government.
From his advocacy for disseminating information regarding the details of the police station proposal, his desire to have all segments of Claremont convey their thoughts and input for the inevitable Village South expansion and development, and his practical insight to finding solutions to budgetary deficits, Mr. Ceraso exhibits the attributes that are needed as part of the team that makes up the city council.
I encourage residents to vote for Michael Ceraso for council. Meeting him personally or listening to him in one of the forums will convince you of the merits of choosing him as one of your next council representatives.
Courser on November 6
In small-group discussion and public forums, we have been impressed by council candidate Zach Courser and encourage voters to give him serious consideration.
We have found him to be an open, independent and flexible thinker and a respectful and responsive listener. As a teacher and author in the field of public policy, he understands how to develop long-term goals and craft effective policies to address the city’s needs.
When asked about taxes, for example, Mr. Courser says he would look for more creative ways to raise revenues. While he firmly opposes Grover Norquist’s rigid pledges of “no new taxes,” he is concerned about the burden they would place on low-income families in Claremont. Instead he proposes generating higher commercial revenues by attracting businesses such as small, clean tech or bio-tech firms to make Claremont’s economy more viable and diverse.
Mr. Courser has also been civically engaged. He currently serves on the traffic and transportation commission, on the Claremont Heritage board of directors, and advocates for the homeless through CHAP.
The city council would benefit from his fresh ideas, firm grasp of public policy, sound analysis and commitment to the welfare of Claremont.
CPOA endorses Reece
The men and women of the Claremont Police Officers’ Association (CPOA) work hard every day to serve the citizens of Claremont. We take pride in the high level of service we provide and our constant desire to ensure the public’s safety for all those who live and visit the city of Claremont.
Experienced public safety leadership is required when keeping standards high and the community safe. This is why the CPOA endorses Ed Reece for Claremont city council.
Through our participation with Mr. Reece in many community programs as well as his role as chair of the Claremont Police Commission, we have had the opportunity to develop a strong and positive relationship with him for over five years. He has a genuine desire to ensure the safety of the community. He has led initiatives to combat crime in the city and has partnered with the police department to develop ways to enhance policing services for Claremont.
Mr. Reece has a lot of ideas in addressing Claremont’s challenges including public safety, budget/fiscal responsibility and more. Visit edreece.com to learn more about his positions on the current issues.
Unique to his candidacy, Mr. Reece’s proven leadership and experience in Claremont’s public safety is just one of the many ways he continues giving back to our community. I invite you to go to edreece.com and see Mr. Reece’s “Giving Back” video to learn about why it matters so much to him. We hope Claremont will join the association in supporting Ed Reece for Claremont City Council.
Vice President, CPOA
I spent four of the most important years in my life in Claremont. It’s a community unlike any other—with a fascinating mix of people from all walks of life that have decided to work together in building a true home.
As our community grows, and we face new challenges, it’s become clear to me that Claremont needs new leadership—leadership that is exciting, engaging, and innovative. There’s no one that fits that description more than Mike Ceraso.
I could spend this letter writing about Mr. Ceraso’s accomplishments (which are plentiful), or about the ways that he’s made an impact in every project he’s been involved in, or even about the way he was fearless and uncompromising in pushing a grand vision to increase political access for people in the south.
Instead, I’ll give you one word that I associate with Mr. Ceraso, and that you should too: family.
He is uniquely suited to join the Claremont City Council, because he thinks about everyone as if they were his family. His political vision isn’t about gaining visibility or influence or power–but about building the empathy that we should have for others as we build a future together.
Claremont, without a doubt, is Mr. Ceraso’s home, and it’s people are his family. He’s running for city council because he wants to help shape his Claremont family’s future for the better.
Vote for Mike Ceraso on November 6, and elect a leader who will put your families first. Because they’re his family too.
Pablo Ordonez Bravo