Readers comments 7-30-21
Transportation depot name changed again?
Elaine Turner, president of the Claremont Museum of Art, is raising $180,000 in donations to “build out the Depot.” My first reaction to her solicitation letter was what happened to the name of building? I thought the city changed the name to “Transportation Depot”.
I suspect that after someone at city hall quietly changed the name to Transportation Depot in the application to secure $350k in transportation funding from Metro, apparently, the city and the museum have changed their minds and decided to drop “transportation”. It’s probably for the better, because the word transportation distracts from the art museum’s image and the building’s true purpose.
My second reaction was why aren’t real progressives in Claremont outraged by these events? To recap, the Claremont City Council and the elites who make up the board of the Claremont Museum of Art have used a regressive tax meant for improving transportation for everyone to fund the expansion of a private art club. In fact, Elaine Turner claims in her solicitation that Metro approved the taxpayer-funded renovation with full knowledge that her private art club would occupy the new space, and the building would not serve any legitimate transportation purpose.
If this is not corruption, I don’t know what is. Apparently, those who run the Claremont Museum of Art, as well as its members, have no problem taking hard-earned money from people who struggle to find affordable housing and fill their gas tanks, as long as it benefits their private club. Quite frankly, this sounds like something taken right out of Donald Trump’s playbook.
I can see it now… opening night of the new, expanded Claremont Museum of Art. There will be plenty of good food, fine wine, and laughs to go around… all celebrating how they were able to pull off this scheme.
I find it shameful. And quite frankly, if you’re a real progressive, you should, too.
Although the COURIER wants to concentrate on events in the city, sometimes a national event becomes interesting. As a native of Cleveland, Ohio (I have been in CA for 45 years) I tend to follow the sports teams I grew up with and know. Hence, the Cleveland Indians. They are now called the Guardians because of WOKE. The team was founded in 1915 – give me a break. I guess it was just too divisive and caused great pain. There are a lot of name changes to be made under the guidance of WOKE. In my home state will be Columbus, Ohio because Columbus had the nerve to explore and got into some scrapes with the native people. The most important name change will be America. That Amerigo Vespucci guy had some nerve to explore and maybe he might have had slaves and that is awful to have a country named after him.
The name Indian Hill Blvd. should be changed. Although the Indians lived on the land here it still should be changed because of WOKE. Perhaps it should just be called Hills Blvd. no problem.
Fentanyl and China’s part
Your article “Forever 15” (July 23) properly raised an alarm about the fentanyl epidemic, but it pointed the finger of blame in the wrong direction.
Conspicuously absent was this fact: “Since 2013, China has been the principal source of the fentanyl flooding the U.S. illicit drug market since 2013, China has been the principal source of the fentanyl flooding the U.S. illicit drug market.” (https://www.brookings.edu/research/fentanyl-and-geopolitics-controlling-opioid-supply-from-china.) Street names for fentanyl include China Girl, China Town, and China White. In 2019, China claimed it was banning the production and sale of fentanyl, but enforcement has been toothless. Does anybody think a totalitarian government couldn’t stop fentanyl from being shipped across its borders if it really wanted to?
One person you interviewed blamed “a pharmaceutical company” for “creat[ing] a drug for abuse for the public.” However, fentanyl has legitimate medical uses. He also said fentanyl doses “are all being made in motels on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach and Buena Park.” Maybe so, but they’re being made out of bulk fentanyl from China (or made out of precursors from China).
Why go after the little fish? We could dramatically reduce fentanyl abuse in the U.S. simply by getting China to do what it has already promised to do.
The Chinese people are awesome. But the Chinese government is not our friend.
Donna R. Hecht
Last Monday I was checking Laemmle’s web page and saw a film that was going to be there one day only, that evening at 7:30. “Absolute Endlessness,” a film by 78-year-old Swedish auteur Roy Andersson, sounded interesting. So I went, and it was.
On the way home I stopped at the AM/PM Arco gas station at the corner of Foothill and Claremont Blvd. Pre-COVID I’d stopped there regularly on my way home from a night out in Claremont.
I can’t remember the last time I had Fritos and bean dip and I don’t know why that appealed to me then but it did. With a soda. I can’t remember the last time I had a soda, a Sprite.
I took those three items up and placed them on the checkout counter where they fit underneath the plexiglas shield. The same gray-haired Hispanic man I was familiar with from 15 months ago was still there. He was always courteous 15 months ago but he never acknowledged then that he recognized me. So I wouldn’t expect it now, especially since I was wearing a hat and a mask.
He started ringing the items up when a young, handsome, and very dark Black man with dreadlocks came in, stuck his hand with a 50 dollar bill in it under the plexiglas, saying, “I’ll pay for her items and you can put the rest on pump 4.”
The clerk said in an admonishing tone, “I need to take care of this customer first.”
The Black man didn’t have a mask on so it wasn’t that his words had been muffled. I just think his kind gesture was so unexpected that the clerk was caught off guard.
The Black man didn’t miss a beat in explaining again what he’d like. The clerk understood this time and took the $50.
It all happened pretty quickly so there wasn’t much time for me to demur. I don’t think the young man would have accepted a rejection of his kindness anyway. So I just smiled at him from behind my mask and gave him a little salute with fingers to forehead. He smiled back.
When I left the mini mart I glanced over at the gas pumps and spotted my benefactor standing by his very shiny red new-looking sporty car.
He must be doing very well in life. That was kind of him to share a bit of his good fortune with me.
Last night, Thursday night, I felt like going out to a movie again. A friend told me “Black Widow” is a movie from the Marvel series. Well, I don’t mind a *big* movie with lots of big bang action, every once in awhile. And that’s what it was alright. I kind of ignored those scenes till we were back to people talking again. The relationships were sweet though a little fairy tale predictable. But that’s ok too. That can be satisfying in its own way. And there is one idea about how mind control is achieved by the bad guy General that was interesting. (No spoiler here.)
It was when I was returning to my car that I had a very lovely experience. Usually I can find parking in the small lot across from the theater, or on the street around the corner. But not last night. I ended up driving down to the parking structure on First Street. I appreciate the digital sign that was installed a few years ago at the entrance that lets drivers know how many parking spaces are available. The sign said 112.
I wound my way around, up and up, first, second level, moving slowly behind a few other cars. The other cars were a bit ahead of me when a car pulled out of a parking spot on the third level and I was able to park. I took the stairs down, jaywalked across First St., hurried up to the Public (Laemmle) Plaza, and saw why parking had been a challenge. It was 7 p.m. at the end of a warm day, at the (sort of maybe) end of a pandemic and lots of people were seated at the umbrellaed tables around the plaza, enjoying the cooler evening air, enjoying the sound of the fountains, enjoying being out, enjoying each other’s company.
When the movie let out at about 9 there were still people out in the plaza, enjoying the evening.
I walked down the street-wide ramp that leads from the plaza to First Street and jaywalked across First again. At the east end of the parking structure I walked up a few steps to a landing then paused, with one hand on the railing. I was thinking I didn’t want to walk up the three flights of stairs and was looking over at the two nearby elevators. There was a man standing in front of the closed doors of one of the elevators, texting on his phone. I was thinking I didn’t want to share the small space of an elevator.
And in the few moments I was thinking all this I was also noticing and listening to the five or six young skateboarders moving around the broad area between the end of the parking structure and the beginning of the building that extends to Indian Hill Blvd. My map tells me Keck Graduate Institute is housed there.
And in those few moments that I was looking at the man at the elevator and noticing the skateboarders, one of the skateboarders broke away from the others and came over to me. In his plain brown beanie hat and with a crooked smile he asked, “Can I help you?”
It flashed through my mind that he must have thought I’d paused where I had because I was having difficulties. And just as quickly I decided I wasn’t going to tell him otherwise. There was something about his sweet face.
Sometimes it’s a kindness to accept a kindness.
“Oh, I’m thinking about using the elevator,” I said.
He took my free hand and said, “I can walk you over.”
So with his hand holding mine we walked down the few steps from the landing and over to the elevators. The man who’d been waiting was just getting in one of the elevators.
On the way over to the elevator I learned that this courteous young man is 20 years old and his name is Omar.
“Well, Omar, your family has raised a very kind young man. Do you have grandparents you help out?”
“Yes. I have a wheelchair I keep in my car for when I take my grandfather places.”
By then we’d reached the elevator and Omar pressed the “up” button for me.
“Omar, my name is Valerie and I appreciate your kindness. Thank you for walking me over.”
He smiled a humble, shy smile as he made sure I got safely on the elevator and said, “Bye Valerie,” as the doors closed.
I had an awful tragedy happen on July 4, losing two dogs who were very dear to me. My sorrow is compounded by the heartache I’m feeling for my two friends who were the dogs’ human family, who loved them dearly and are missing them terribly. It’s been a sorrowful time. Omar’s sweet thoughtfulness gave my spirits a little lift. His gift to me was a greater kindness than he could even know. I’m sending out to the world my good wishes for a good life for this young man.
Omar’s kindness reminded me of this favorite quote of mine and so many others…
“We’re all just walking each other home.” – Ram Dass
Serving the unaffluent
The city of Claremont government is dangling a wonderful gift, but it is unclear whether the city’s faith-based institutions will embrace it.
Tuesday night, the Claremont Planning Commission considered updating the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance (IHO) to assure that it provided housing for low income individuals and families. To date, developers have had the option of providing 10 percent of their housing units for the low income or 15 percent for the moderate income. They have always opted for serving the most affluent moderate income, resulting in no housing provided for the low income over the past decade.
Now, the Planning Commission is considering a number of updates to correct this bias, including eliminating the moderate income housing option or adding a requirement for moderate income housing in addition to a low income housing requirement. These potential changes were only unveiled just before the Planning Commission meeting, resulting in postponement of its decision until a special August 10 meeting.
The public testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of shifting the IHO to serving the low, and especially the very low, income. Moreover, it was backed up with wonderful arguments for especially providing affordable housing to those who work in Claremont, but cannot find affordable housing anywhere across the Los Angeles basin. Many of these workers face long commutes, as well as sleep in overcrowded apartments, their cars, or even on the streets. A couple of developers did advocate for a “grace period” to exempt the projects they are still planning, a strange interpretation of the concept of grace.
However, I only heard testimony from one faith-based institution. My own. Both the pastors and mission/social action board of the Claremont United Church of Christ submitted testimony in support of providing housing for the low and very low income.
I would like to challenge all Claremont faith-based institutions to make their voices heard, now, before the Planning Commission makes its recommendations for action. Each mosque, synagogue, church and other place of worship needs to calls for updating the IHO to provide housing for the low income, as well as to prod developers do the right thing and stop skimming only the most affluent individuals and all too few families.
I have seen the power of faith-based institutions that target their efforts on affordable housing. Action in Montgomery, a faith-based effort in Montgomery County, MD, where I previously lived, successfully advocated for dedicating three cents of the county property tax levy to affordable housing, resulting in housing tens of thousands of low income individuals and families.
Let’s give thanks for this gift and make sure it helps house the low income who are always with us.
“SRO” should not mean “Safety Removed On-site”
Violence has been exploding across our cities and nation over the past year. Movements to defund the police in cities such as Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and others have undermined the morale of our law enforcement and created a dangerous environment not only for our police, but all citizens as well. Liberal politicians and judges in California have greatly lowered the bar for criminal conduct and have freed so-called “non-violent” felons from our prisons resulting in an increase in property crimes.
I believe the elimination of the police School Resource Officer (“SRO”) from our Claremont Unified School District not only puts our school students, faculty, and staff at risk, but it also sends a signal to our community that police are inherently bad people and that consequences for criminal behavior can be tolerated. Students at every age level need to have regular positive engagement with our police so that they learn to respect them and the valuable services that they provide our community. Undisciplined children and adults will continue, and often times increase, their bad behavior if allowed to go unchecked. I also believe that all discipline should be exercised consistently, uniformly, proportionately, and without favor to race, gender, sexual orientation, status, popularity, or income. I believe removing the SRO from our schools and “reimagining and redesigning school safety and well-being” using “proctors trained in de-escalation” will result in not only making our schools more dangerous, but also proliferate the anti-police sentiment which has resulted in increased criminal behavior throughout our nation. My wife and I put 3 children through the Claremont Unified School District and we never feared for their safety. I’m glad my children are done with school here so I don’t have to worry about their safety while our community and school district proceed with what I believe to be an unwise partisan political social experiment. I urge parents to exercise their 1st amendment rights with our elected leaders and school district administrators if you share similar feelings. Putting all politics aside, the first priority of our government is the equal protection of its citizenry. Violence has been exploding across our cities and nation over the past year. Movements to defund the police in cities such as Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and others have undermined the morale of our law enforcement and created a dangerous environment not only for our police, but all citizens as well. Liberal politicians and judges in California have greatly lowered the bar for criminal conduct and have freed so-called “non-violent” felons from our prisons, resulting in an increase in property crimes.
I believe the elimination of the police school resource officer (“SRO”) from
our Claremont Unified School District not only puts our school students, faculty, and staff at risk, but it also sends a signal to our community that police are inherently bad people and that consequences for criminal behavior can be tolerated. Students at every age level need to have regular positive engagement with our police so that they learn to respect them and the valuable services that they provide our community. Undisciplined children and adults will continue, and often times increase, their bad behavior if allowed to go unchecked. I also believe that all discipline should be exercised consistently, uniformly, proportionately, and without favor to race, gender, sexual orientation, status, popularity, or income. I believe removing the SRO from our schools and “reimagining and redesigning school safety and well-being” using “proctors trained in de-escalation” will result in not only making our schools more dangerous, but also proliferate the anti-police sentiment which has resulted in increased criminal behavior throughout our nation. My wife and I put three children through the Claremont Unified School District and we never feared for their safety. I’m glad my children are done with school here so I don’t have to worry about their safety while our community and school district proceed with what I believe to be an unwise partisan political social experiment. I urge parents to exercise their First amendment rights with our elected leaders and school district administrators if you share similar feelings. Putting all politics aside, the first priority of our government is the equal protection of its citizenry.
Kris M. Meyer
Readers’ comments: March 10, 2023