Readers comments 01-29-21
Biden followed through
Biden has been officially inaugurated as our 46th president. During his campaign, he promised to do many things within his first 100 days—and based on the extensive list of executive orders signed his first day, I believe that he will deliver on most of his promises.
In just the first week, Biden has followed through on several big ticket items: COVID-19, Economic Relief, Immigration, Climate Change, and Human Rights. Though the importance of each of these will vary per person, I am especially thankful for his re-joining the Paris Climate Accord and his reversal of the many discriminatory laws that Trump passed. Trump entacted many anti-LGBTQ bills, including a transgender military ban and, more recently, legalizing employment discrimination and rolling back other non-discrimiation protections against queer individuals. Biden has revoked both of these policies—the transgender mlitary ban has been lifted and there are strengthened protections against workplace discrimination—in addition to reversing Trump’s ban on diversity training. Respecting a human being’s right to work and to live is the absolute minimum a president should do for their people, and I am relieved that this baseline is once again being met.
That being said, there are some topics which he has not yet addressed.
As an individual who was involved in a mass shooting two years ago, I am looking forward to Biden’s new plans regarding gun rights, especially as schools are beginning to open up. Despite Biden stating that he would send a bill to Congress regarding this reform on his first day in office, he has not—but I am hopeful that this will occur soon, along with bills for tax reform. Trump has consistently put through legislation that have disproportionately benefited the rich, and the corresponding increase of wealth inequality has been drastic. Additionally, though I am also glad that he has started to organize new COVID-19 protocols, I am anxious to see how he plans to increase vaccine dispersal (which has been incredibly inefficient thus far). He also has not yet signed an executive order for carbon neutrality, which would be a significant step in the fight against climate change.
We should all keep Biden accountable for the things he promised, and an eye out for his policy changes in his first 100 days in office.
I believe the authority cited for tomorrow’s closed session meeting is, on it’s face, inapplicable to the described meeting. As such, I believe a meeting on the described topic cannot be held in closed session, that the notice is incorrect, and that the meeting should be re-noticed and held in open session.
The agenda describes the meeting to “discuss the process and timing to fill the position of Permanent City Manager.” Government Code Section 54957(b)(1) presumably the section you are relying on, states in relevant part “this chapter shall not be construed to prevent the legislative body of a local agency from holding closed sessions during a regular or special meeting to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public employee”. However, you should note that this does not go so far as to allow closed session discussion of any sort of general process for filling a position. At best, it allows a closed session when the continued appointment or employment or et cetera of a *specific* employee is being considered. In fact, this entire section is best interpreted in connection with a complaint against a specific employee, and thus is inapposite in this situation.
If your thinking here is to obscure the agenda to allow you to consider a specific person, say, Mr Pirrie, for the permanent job, you are free to find a legal way to do that. This is not it. The matter of the process and timing of filling the job is a matter of legitimate public interest, and not covered by a closed session exception.
Ludd A. Trozpek
[Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Mayor Jennifer Stark and a copy forwarded to the COURIER. The meeting was held Tuesday, January 26. —PW]
We just wanted to write about our disappointment in reading Jay B. Winderman’s letter to the editor of January 8, 2021.
While we have no argument with his general message, we were saddened by his ending reference to the Pony Express. We suggest instead that he should have ended: “Surely a tortoise could deliver mail more efficiently?”
At our bi-weekly Zoom gathering with friends this past Sunday, I learned that almost all of our group have had the first shot of COVID-19 vaccine and are happily waiting for number two. Enviously I asked how this was done, as we have experienced much frustration attempting to get appointments with no results so far. Well, one couple, both over 65, lied online about being health care professionals, got early appointments and when they arrived, were not asked for work ID and simply got their shots. The whole thing took them about an hour. Another couple got theirs when their daughter shared the code she got for being the wife of a firefighter. In other words—surprise!—lying and cheating work. Mind you, we do not condone this, are a bit miffed at our “friends”, and are still impatiently waiting for our turn.
My second comment, in a more light-hearted vein, notes that newly purchased computer tablets apparently enjoy travel. Who knew? We ordered one online and tracked its shipping progress. It went from Los Angeles to Memphis, TN, spent a few days doing who knows what (having more fun than we were, no doubt), before flying back to Ontario to be loaded on the truck for delivery. We still haven’t seen it yet—when we do, it will have some questions to answer!
Approval of Contract for EIR
Dear City Councilmembers:
In late 2020, we asked that you include the general public in any discussions or meetings regarding the disposition or reconfiguration of La Puerta sports field.
You did not. Instead, as recently stated by a council member, you encouraged Trumark Builders to meet solely with the Youth Sports Committee (YSC) to devise a “community benefits agreement” for the soccer field configuration, (which belongs to all residents of the city), in exchange for economic favor. The YSC members held unannounced meetings with Trumark Builders in violation of the
California Brown Act. The public was excluded. Were these actions approved by the city attorney? On December 4, 2020, the city YSC provided Trumark a platform to present a jointly devised plan to the public. That only YSC committee members were involved in preplanning with Trumark is cited by the City’s planner on page 3 of the contract proposal before you.
Additionally, the City ignored pleas from soccer coaches for nearly a yearfor the repair of the soccer field to a safe condition after they said several people broke limbs on the field. To date, you have ignored and not responded to urgent community calls for the immediate repair and safety remedy of the soccer field.
This is shameful and woefully imprudent behavior. You are intentionally
subjecting the city to the potential cost of open litigation, to say nothing about subjecting this city’s children to on-going danger, while you await economic favor from Trumark Builders to repair the field.
You are now asked to approve a contract, paid for by Trumark, for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), before you tonight. Please consider the following:
• Page 2 of the Award of Contract says that an alternative to the contract is to “Continue the matter for additional discussion.” In view of the circumstance that the majority of Claremont residents were intentionally left out of all soccer field configuration planning meetings and discussions with Trumark, I would urge you to continue the discussion and now include the rest of Claremont–besides the eight men and one woman who participated in the pre-planning offer for a sports-related community benefit agreement. This arrangement is not municipally constitutional.
The proposed loss of amenity is harmful to citywide residents who use the field, and they should be included. Please pause and open the discussion to the other 37 thousand people who live in this city–before you proceed to authorize a contract for a report based on a configuration of the sports-field from which the input of the other 37 thousand people who were excluded.
• Page 12 of the contract proposal says that the impact of using part of Cahuilla Park to build a softball field will not be considered in the EIR, although page 2 of the proposal says that the purpose of the EIR is to examine a project and identify potential environmental impacts that could result if the project were built as proposed. If the project is built as proposed, part of Cahuilla Park will be confiscated to build softball fields, leaving less space for children to play. Local residents adjacent to Cahuilla Park will experience greatly increased traffic, noise, parking difficulties, and possibly crime. Small children’s lives will be put at risk from the increased congestion. It is impossible to fully understand the total environmental impact of the La Puerta project without studying all parts of the plan under consideration, including how Cahuilla Park will be adversely affected. Cahuilla Park must be included in the EIR.
• Page 6: The City of Claremont is asking for a quick “expeditious” study, paid for by Trumark, from a sole source contractor, that will be legally “defensible,” instead of requesting a fully thorough, objective environmental review that will objectively benefit all residents of the city. Please release an open source competitive bid for the award of any contract. This is another alternative, not mentioned by the planner.
• This city has made several clandestine, ramrodded movements to push the
Trumark project through without transparency or general involvement ofcommunity. Circuitous actions orchestrated by the city, such as City Council’s promoting the desirability of “community benefit agreements,” are fraught and will be subject to additional but costly to taxpayer reviews. It is unacceptable that city planners would discuss ill-gained plans, which were generated without following Brown Act requirements, in their formal requests for contract approval, to the exclusion of the general public’s input. On December 4, 2020, in a YSC meeting, Trumark + YSC presented a “fait accompli” configuration plan for the sports park.
No mention was made in the contract approval request that every one of thegeneral public members, who spoke at this only one public meeting held,vigorously opposed the plan. In fact, the general public’s view of the sport’s park was not mentioned at all.
[Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Claremont City Council and a copy forwarded to the COURIER. —PW]