Readers comments 4-2-21

History of Claremont

Dear editor:

Many citizens may not be aware of the long, illustrious history of the City of Claremont. In 1897, Pomona College located itself in Claremont followed by its incorporation of Claremont as a city entity on October 7, 1907. Pomona College created Claremont for its own support using its own resources. At that time, it had approximately 180 citizens, all of which were Pomona College Employees.

There now has arrived on the scene a number of persons, which some might view as being politically oriented, endeavoring to propitiously disassemble what had been created to be, during over one hundred twelve years of time. This is indicative of a critic viewpoint that says fulfilling only their objectives is of any significance.

They have stated in meetings that Claremont must be low-cost housing made up of a uniform mix of four-story high-rise units, zero lot-line high density housing developments. Other statements include that we must bus people from Compton to Claremont to Occupy this housing. We must move out of our houses, which we bought with our life savings and move into nursing homes. A widow or widower cannot occupy their home alone. The general public would be aghast at what is on its way here.

There have been many recorded incidents of conflict-of-interest actions executed by public office holders of office. Also, the Brown Act requires that any gathering of a government entity consisting of as much as a quorum must be given public advance notice.

Since October 7, 1907, there has been created in Claremont two medical institutes, massive college student housing, Lincoln University, the college consortium, Drucker Institute, Claremont Graduate University, and a number of other colleges. We have a ministers’ retirement community, and three of four nursing homes. Persons in official positions are publicly disregarding the above contributions as having no consequence. They do have consequence regarding the value of the type of city created, which will be destroyed by political ambition if the excessive high-density trajectory continues. Therefore, it must be ended. 

Maurice M. Carter



A Wasted Opportunity

Dear editor:

In last week’s COURIER, an article on the planned increase in sanitation fees erroneously suggested that contracting-out Claremont’s waste disposal services would not save money. 

While it is true that the state’s new organic waste mandate will increase costs for private contractors as well as for municipally operated departments, there is still a large cost disparity between these two service models.

Almost every city of Claremont’s size long ago disbanded their city-operated waste collection departments and switched to private contractors. These cities typically offer lower rates and superior levels of service than Claremont residents experience. There are several reasons why this is so.

First, as waste disposal is a competitive industry, private contractors must keep costs low in order to stay in business. By contrast, Claremont’s sanitation department has no incentive to cut costs at all. As we saw at last week’s meeting, the city council simply rubber-stamps the department’s budget without making any effort whatsoever to determine if there are lower-cost alternatives.

Second, private contractors take advantage of the economies of scale to provide the best service at the lowest cost. Unlike Claremont’s sanitation department – which serves 11,000 households and a few hundred businesses – private contractors serve hundreds of thousands of customers. A large customer base allows contractors to make far more efficient use of personnel and equipment than any small city department could hope to match.

Finally, private contractors don’t have to provide expensive defined-benefit pension plans to their employees. Claremont sanitation employees (who make up almost a quarter of the city’s non-police payroll) are all covered by the city’s budget-busting CALPERS pension plan. 

Even though Claremont residents pay some of the highest trash collection fees in Southern California, they don’t even come close to covering the total cost of service. In an average year, the sanitation workers’ pension plan is underfunded by at least $500,000. The department has already accumulated millions of dollars of unfunded pension liabilities that will have to be paid for by even higher rates in the near future.

If Claremont were to follow the example of the overwhelming majority of cities in California which contract for their sanitation services, we could put a cap on the pension debt, sell off surplus property and equipment, and immediately save at least $500,000 per year.

Remarkably, the city council refuses to commission a study to determine whether contract sanitation services would be advantageous for Claremont residents. Even more remarkably, the members of the council will not explain their disinterest in an option which has the potential to save millions of dollars. We literally cannot afford such incompetence, and there is no reason why Claremont residents should tolerate it any longer.

Jim Belna



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