Readers’ comments: October 28, 2022
Time to reanimate Claremont committee to fight bigotry
Recent antisemitic statements made by Kanye West, Elon Musk and Donald Trump, with ensuing calls for violence against Jews by such neo-Nazi groups as the Goyim Defense League, although occurring primarily in West L.A. and Beverly Hills, should nonetheless give pause to Claremont residents. In 1996, our own community woke up to similar hate-motivated KKK pamphlets strewn liberally across residents’ driveways and lawns. This heinous act prompted the city to establish the committee on human relations, whose primary mission remains that of educating the public about the corrosive affects bigotry has upon civil society.
Although vigorous in its early years in carrying out its mission, especially throughout the school system, the CoHR has been left to languish for the better part of the past decade. Given the present climate of fear and hate, this cannot be permitted to continue. If one thinks Claremont is immune from such hate falling upon our doorsteps once again, they need to think twice. In all probability it already has.
The remedy to combat bigotry in all its forms is at hand. I call upon my fellow residents to pick up the anti-hate mantle once again by contacting city hall, urging them to reinvigorate the CoHR to its full, robust authority to fight against hate.
Ash is a charter member and former chair of the Claremont Committee on Human Relations.
A lesson from Simón Bolívar
All the tribalism between Trump/MAGA fans and those who aren’t fans brings to mind a quotation attributed to Simón Bolívar (1783-1830), the military and political leader who tried to unite parts of South America and free it from European rule. He summed up that difficulty with, “He who serves a revolution ploughs the sea.”
I love this metaphor because it applies to so many things we try to do. Instead of “ploughing the sea” and trying to change someone’s mind with little or no results, step back and ask yourself some hard questions: is it okay to systematically try to prevent people from voting, as is going on in so many states right now? Is it in the American spirit to have vigilantes lurking at drop-off boxes in some states to intimidate voters? Is it okay to talk about limiting government overreach while turning a blind eye as various states take away a woman’s right to choose? Is it patriotic to continually question fair election results unless, of course, your team happens to win? Would most Americans be better off if Social Security and Medicare were gutted? Is it fine for just about anyone to own weapons of war? Are politicians, up to and including the president, above the law? Do millionaires and billionaires need more tax breaks? (Side note: the highest marginal tax rate during the Eisenhower years was around 90% and the rich still managed to have all the goodies money can buy.)
I choose to ignore all the propaganda, fear mongering and rhetoric that’s running amok out there, and ask hard questions. And a final important one: if a political party has so much to offer all of us, why would they try to keep so many of us from voting?
Thank you chamber for 40th Village Venture
The Claremont Chamber of Commerce and their volunteers deserve the highest praise for conducting a very successful Village Venture. Their efforts help to ensure Claremont is a community of collaboration, good cheer, and wholesome endeavors.
Please don’t make it harder to provide affordable housing
As a lifelong Claremont resident and rental property owners here in town, I urge you and the other City Council members to oppose the strict eviction and rent controls under consideration.
Our city already has common sense regulated rents and for-cause eviction policies through state law AB 1482, in addition to all the fair laws already in place.
Claremont has many small family-owned rental properties. My two sisters and I own a small duplex here that was built by our family in 1955. We are not in the eviction business; we help house Claremont residents. As with all rental property owners, ours is an investment and often we are struggling to keep that investment profitable while remaining fair and reasonable to our tenants. Operational costs are skyrocketing, and we need the tools to operate in the community to the best of our ability. The hardships being placed on housing providers like us are affecting all residents and may lead to even more expensive and lesser-quality housing.
Rent controls often encourage owners to neglect upgrades. Please consider these additional laws and ordinances that make our business less profitable and more difficult to administer may in fact reduce the rental availability by causing owners such as ourselves to sell. If sold, a property such as ours would either be turned into a single family home or the new owners would raise the rents substantially in order to obtain a return on their investment. This results in an outcome none of us want: less affordable housing and less availability.
Please oppose the proposed eviction and rent controls. The city needs people like us to continue our investment in the City of Claremont. Please focus on specific housing availability concerns and reject broad, counterproductive policies.
Jeff Barnes, Loren Herold, Betsy Bishop
Congress: pass the ENACT Act
I’m part of a Cuban American family who have experienced Alzheimer’s disease, two of my aunts and now me.
No one knew why they were acting strangely, so they did not have proper care. One lost her home because she stopped paying her association fees due to a lack of knowledge and care. People of color are especially impacted and unaware of studies and care. Please support the ENACT Act so people of color can access information and care at earlier stages, before it’s too late.
While nearly everyone now knows someone with Alzheimer’s, many people don’t realize that it disproportionately affects older Black and Hispanic Americans. Black Americans are two to three times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s, and Hispanic Americans are one to two times more likely to develop the disease.
Despite being more likely to have the disease, Alzheimer’s research is not including sufficient numbers of Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders or Native Americans to be representative of the U.S. population. Building and restoring trust in communities of color is essential to ensuring that everyone benefits from advances in Alzheimer’s science.
The bipartisan Equity in Neuroscience and Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials (ENACT) Act (HR 2517) would do this by expanding education and outreach to these populations, reducing the burden of participation and expanding the diversity of clinical trial staff, among other tactics.
That is why I am asking Rep. Judy Chu to co-sponsor the ENACT Act. Your support will make a world of difference!
Acting now to improve future outcomes is critical, especially in a state as diverse and heavily populated as California. Please join me and the Alzheimer’s Association in asking your Congressional representative to do the same.
Myra Solano Garcia
Former mayors: vote Reece for City Council
Ed Reece understands municipal budgeting. During his four years on the City Council, he has worked hard to not only address a $2.5 million structural deficit but also to thoughtfully allocate last year’s $4.2 million surplus and this year’s $4.72 million surplus.
Listening to the community and citizen needs/priorities, he approved the reinstatement of positions in the police department, community development department, and human services department, and the restoration of funding for community based organizations. During his four years on City Council, he has also approved additional contributions to CalPERS to reduce our unfunded liability by millions of dollars and increased our reserve funds. We are confident Ed will continue to use his business acumen and entrepreneurial approach to local government finances to maintain fiscal stability in Claremont.
Our support, without hesitation, goes to Ed Reece.
Sam Pedroza and Larry Schroeder
Pedroza was a Claremont City Council member from 2007 to 2018, and served as mayor in 2011-2012 and 2016-2017. Schroeder was on City Council from 2009 to 2020, and mayor in 2012-2013, 2017-2018 and 2019-2020.
Retired police chiefs: vote Reece for City Council
As retired leaders of the Claremont Police Department, we wholeheartedly support Ed Reece for City Council. Ed has a longstanding commitment to public safety for both residents and the men and women of our police department who provide services to our residents. He understands that public safety services are best provided when law enforcement and the community work together to maintain community values.
Before being elected to the City Council four years ago, Ed served on the police commission for over four years, including more than three years as commission chair. We have come to know Ed as a person who asks probing questions in his decision-making process. We appreciate his thoughtful and methodical approach to developing programs and policies that benefit the Claremont community and the Claremont Police Department.
Please join us in voting for Ed Reece on November 8th or in your vote-by-mail ballot.
Shelly Vander Veen and Paul Cooper
Vander Veen and Cooper, both now retired, each served as chief of the Claremont Police Department.
Vote Johnson for City Council
In the 10/14/22 COURIER, Mr. Joe Lyons scolds former Claremont Mayor Sam Pedroza for supporting Aundré Johnson over Jed Leano. Joe contends Jed is being unfairly criticized because he is a strong supporter of state housing mandates.
Joe neglects to mention that much of the outcry about housing is related to the lack of transparency by Jed. Specifically, most residents were not aware of the plans for Larkin Place until after the city council made its decision for approval.
Three members of the city council were not aware of the plans for Larkin Place until it appeared on the agenda, with the caveat that the resolution must be passed upon presentation, or there might be legal problems. Later, when the council rejected the request for an easement through Larkin Park, Jed lectured the council on their denial of high density housing.
Joe contends Jed is unfairly criticized because he appears to have aspirations for higher political office. Jed’s need to receive awards from other politicians and to be photographed with them feed those perceptions.
Jed seldom addresses the real concerns of residents. We hear no plans to address the increase in crime, prostitution, human trafficking in South Claremont, and, presumably, if it were built, Larkin Place.
Joe accuses Aundré of being a “no-growth” candidate. Not true. Aundré believes in smart density options like smaller single family, single story affordable housing units.
Aundré wants to hear the voices of citizens that feel they are not being heard and wants to use his bridge building skills to unite our community once again. His supporters have diverse political opinions, are newcomers and longtime residents. Aundré believes public safety is a high priority and that Claremont can meet state housing requirements in a way that Claremont can embrace.
Stark’s ‘scalpel’ analogy a good credo for council
Claremont City Council member Jennifer Stark commented during the October 11 council meeting that a “scalpel” not a “hammer” should be used in developing an eviction moratorium and rental regulation. A surgeon uses a delicate scalpel rather than a cruder tool, in order to do what is actually needed and avoid harm to surrounding tissue. Ms. Stark’s use of this analogy reflects her practice of being careful to achieve the goal yet avoid collateral damage, which should apply to all decisions faced by our City Council and commissions.
It can be tempting to pursue a primary goal single-mindedly, without considering and avoiding undesirable side effects. It happens often enough that it’s been given its own name: the law of unintended consequences.
Jennifer Stark has recognized this danger and advises a nuanced approach to a decision which will have multiple effects on multiple parties.
Nuance can be misunderstood, or can be intentionally mischaracterized, as being against something, when it really means accomplishing something deftly and with the least amount of harmful side effects.
I am grateful to council member Stark for her statement. I hope her “scalpel” analogy will become the standard in all of our city government’s decisions and actions. Each commission and the council should carefully devise its own best decision with consideration of all input offered by the staff, by a developer or other applicant, and by advocates for all outcomes and affected parties. In doing so, they will avoid unintended harmful consequences and will create the best outcomes for our community.
Vote Leano for City Council
As a District 4 resident, I support Jed Leano for another term on Claremont City Council. Jed is a bridge builder, someone who can bring diverse people together to resolve our differences and work collaboratively for the betterment of the Claremont community.
In his four years as a council member and current term as mayor, Jed’s emphasis on finding solutions has helped to achieve a number of initiatives, including:
- A Covid business and renter relief program.
- Affordable housing for low income seniors on Baseline Road.
- A two-year balanced budget for the city.
- A four-year labor agreement with the police officers association.
- The highest Measure H award for any city cohort in Los Angeles County.
When Jed speaks, I listen, appreciating both what he says and how he says it. His talks are fact-based, energetic yet calm. Never polemic, they are positive and inviting.
Last July 4, I spent the morning at the speakers corner in Memorial Park listening to the varied voices of Claremont. When Jed sprinted to the podium, I knew we were in for a treat. But it was more than that; it was an invitation to take part in his dream of a truly inclusive city where all voices are heard.
Please join me in working toward that dream, with a vote for Jed Leano for City Council.
Vote Johnson for City Council
Over recent weeks I have seen Jed Leano’s candidate messaging of “Democrat of the year,” the promotion of homeless housing, and proudly supporting Sacramento-led efforts to take away local control dramatically shift to a more conservative stance of promoting city safety and police support. This transition is contradictory in my view.
Claims of safety are absurdly disparate with 1) close alliances and support from groups that push defunding the police, in turn causing a drop in officer staff by 45%; 2) the active promotion the placement of 40 to 50 chronically homeless (many of whom will be illegal drug users, mentally ill, and have long criminal records) next to Joslyn Senior Center, El Roble Intermediate School, Larkin Park, a preschool, elementary school, and three retirement villages, with no requirements for rehabilitation or therapy; 3) voting to limit the CUSD School Resource Officer to off-campus patrols; 4) allowing sex trafficking to run rampant by the 10 Freeway; and 5) enabling homeless vouchers to go unsupervised at the Knights Inn resulting in open drug use and the accumulation of filth.
I believe Jed’s message is changing simply to reflect what the residents of Claremont and District 4 have made very clear, but the real Jed platform is found in his original campaign statement and the evidence is in his voting record.
Aundré Johnson wants to protect all of Claremont and approach new development, including helping Claremont’s needy and disadvantaged, in thoughtful ways that also protect and preserve the Claremont we love. Mr. Johnson’s platform has, from day one, been for community safety and local control based on the needs and desires of Claremont residents. This is not NIMBYism, this is pragmatism, and for this Aundré has my strong support.
Readers’ criticisms of TVMWD candidate biased, unfounded
Ms. Kekone’s and Ms. Zita’s assertions of me [Readers’ Comments, October 21] are biased and unfounded. The former’s double standard and the latter’ misinformation speak to their character. I never said that Three Valleys MWD controls water rates, because it does not. The link the Ms. Zita provides — https://bit.ly/3D222JD — confirms this. However, she does not provide any evidence that I said that I could lower Golden State Water or La Verne water rates, because I never said this.
I state that short-sighted policies that do not address problems of an aging infrastructure, growing population, and climate change have led to our water crisis and will continue to perpetuate it. Therefore, all consumers are paying more and getting less. Indeed, this does create social equity problems, especially with people with fixed incomes (this is addressed on the Claremont Speaks podcast, “Conserve, Recycle, Reuse and Innovate”).
Neither of the other two candidates address all three challenges. In fact, one avoids the Delta Conveyance project, because of the political issues to appease special interests. The Delta Conveyance is an infrastructure upgrade of the State Water Project. It includes seismic upgrades and mechanisms to control sea level rise into the delta. Three Valleys Municipal Water District receives 100% of its imported water from the SWP and 0% from the Colorado River. Avoiding this infrastructure upgrade discussion is irresponsible and dishonest.
In closing, I am the only candidate who will donate his directorship stipend to a nonprofit(s). I will outreach to the community about water conservation and efficiency to relieve some financial burdens. I also have the technical skills, leadership, and drive to serve all people, as I have always done throughout our region.
Javier Aguilar is a candidate for the Division III seat on Three Valleys Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors.
City should stick to current CalPERS payoff plan
In an interview with City Council District 2 candidate Peter Yao in the September 9, 2022 edition of the Claremont Courier, Mr. Yao sets forth a three-pronged plan, including a new tax to address the city’s unfunded CalPERS liability. As a former municipal director of finance for two major Southern California cities and having earned a doctorate degree in public administration, I would take a different approach.
Mr. Yao suggests the city’s employees would “have to transition from pensions into a defined contribution program like a 401k.” If the City of Claremont chose to abandon CalPERS for a 401k retirement for its employees, the entire unfunded liability of near $60 million owed to CalPERS would become due immediately.
To fund his proposed plan, Mr. Yao suggests “ … the citizens of Claremont will probably need to approve a tax measure to cover a portion of the debt.” Why should the taxpayers of Claremont approve more than $60 million plus interest in bonded indebtedness when this unfunded liability is currently being paid in the normal course of business?
To pay off the current unfunded retirement liability, CalPERS actuaries consider economic assumptions including price inflation, retirement formulars, wage inflation, payroll growth and the discount rate; and demographic assumptions including mortality rates, retirement rates, disability rates and rates of salary increases due to seniority and promotion, and more.
According to the city’s website, “The most recent valuations show the unfunded liabilities for the City’s miscellaneous plan paid off by June 30, 2043, and the safety plan payoff is June 30, 2045.” This statement is also found on the CalPERS Actuarial Valuations of June 30, 2020 for the City of Claremont on pages 15 and 19. Reference: calpers.ca.gov.
There is simply no need to further tax Claremont citizens. Let’s remain with the current viable option.
Schroeder was a Claremont City Council member from 2009 to 2020, and served as mayor in 2012-2013, 2017-2018 and 2019-2020.
Vote Hanlon for TVMWD Board
This election, voters have the opportunity to elect a new member to the Three Valleys Municipal Water District Board: Jeff Hanlon.
A vote for Hanlon would mean a new perspective. His opponent, the incumbent, has repeatedly voted to align with and support Cadiz, Inc., a private corporation that wants to water mine an aquifer in the Mojave Desert. This in spite of the fact that scientific studies have shown the project is unsustainable and would wreak havoc on public lands that have been held in public trust.
Conversations about whether it is ethical to mine and export water from a distant, arid and fragile landscape are long overdue, however it’s not for want of trying. I’ve been attending Three Valleys Board meetings since 2018, when environmental scientists, academics, local elected officials, members of various nature conservancies, representatives from environmental groups, tribal leaders, and everyday citizens have all spoken against the project. Routinely, the board has turned a deaf ear.
In the early days of manifest destiny and westward expansion, the settlers looked at land and water as theirs for the taking without considering the environmental or human impacts. Moreover, in the boomtown days of real estate development, locating and moving water to the Southland was looked at as an engineering problem, not an ethical one.
However, times have changed. It’s not the “wild, wild West” or “boom-to-bust” anymore. As a culture, we are now developing an awareness that every action we take has serious ramifications for generations to come.
In this new era, I believe we have a moral imperative to pursue new technologies to reclaim, reuse and collect local water before we import water from other sources. Water sustainability — such strategies as storm water capture and wastewater recycling — are an essential part of Hanlon’s platform.
Vote Jeff Hanlon.
Vote Aguilar for TVMWD Board
Ms. Kekone’s mischaracterization of Javi Aguilar [Readers’ Comments, October 21] is equivalent to Mr. Bowcock’s of Jeff Hanlon. Her double standard and self-selection of Javi’s website speak to her own integrity.
I have known Javi for nearly 40 years. He is a person of integrity and has never been afraid of taking on any problems, including special interest groups. Conveniently not mentioned by Ms. Kekone, Javi is the only candidate that will donate all the proceedings the Three Valleys dictatorship to a nonprofit. He seeks outreach to all community members about water issues.
Water is an issue of regional significance. It’s not parochial. Being a good person is also something that transcends boundaries. Javi has been advocating for all people who are struggling through his volunteering and professional writing that include environmental justice studies to give all people a fair chance.
Javi lives in Claremont Graduate University student housing with his wife and younger daughter (his older daughter is at U.C. Berkeley earning a degree in bioengineering). Javi is earning a doctorate degree in data science, despite already having two advanced degrees. Latinx students represent approximately 1% of all doctorate students in the U.S. Javi wants to make a difference here too, not only with his example but by advocating for more people of color in higher education and professional positions.
In short, Javi is a person of integrity who has never been afraid of putting in the work of the opposition. He is running for water board to serve the community, because he has technical skills, courage, leadership and the fortitude to make a difference, unlike other candidates.
Reader: Bowcock campaign can’t take criticism
In recent weeks, I have had a growing interest in the Three Valleys Water District race. While exploring Mr. Bowcock’s campaign website and social media to further understand his stance on the issues, I noticed that several constituents commented on some of these posts with concerns ranging from his use of a (non-local) celebrity endorsement to influence the election to his history of supporting the Cadiz Water Project.
A disturbing pattern quickly emerged where all critical comments were being deleted by his campaign almost immediately and ones that praised him were allowed to remain. This is clear censorship of voters who reside in his district. In addition, people close to his campaign started to harass some of the other constituents with derogatory and defamatory comments on his competitor’s campaign social media page, in other public forums, and on publicly accessible parts of constituents’ personal social media accounts.
The actions of Mr. Bowcock’s campaign are, at best, extremely disturbing as well as ethically questionable. They raise serious concerns about his ability to effectively represent all the people in this district, including the ones who may have differing opinions than his own. I hope all voters, when filling out their ballots, consider this when making their choice. If Mr. Bowcock can’t handle minor criticism and questions about his own record, how can we possibly trust that he has our community’s best interests at heart?