Friday, December 31, 2010

Police investigating a homicide

Claremont police are investigating a homicide after the body of a man was pulled from an empty field at the northwest corner of Foothill Boulevard and Monte Vista Avenue.

Upland police originally received a call from a witness on Monday, December 27 about a subject seen dragging a dead body in the field. Upland and Claremont Police arrived at the scene to find the subject standing next to the dead body.

They determined the death occurred in Claremont jurisdiction but the body had been dragged over 170 feet to the area of Foothill Boulevard and the drainage tunnel that runs under Foothill and Monte Vista.

The Claremont Police Department began its homicide investigation with the assistance of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office. The subject seen dragging the victim was initially arrested but later released pending further investigation. The Coroner has is withholding the name of the victim until he can be positively identified. The exact cause of death is unknown at this time.

Friday, December 17, 2010

DUI checkpoint

The Claremont Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint at an undisclosed in the city this Sunday, December 19. The checkpoint will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude at 2 a.m. Drivers will be stopped long enough to ensure they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They will also be checked for valid driver licenses and to see if they are wearing safety belt. Police received funding for the checkpoint through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vons in La Verne closing

A tip for grocery shoppers. The Vons at 2340 Foothill Blvd. in La Verne, just next to Target, is closing. As of this morning, everything in stock is 50 percent off. But get there soon. Merchandise is running out quickly.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More pull papers for city council election

Potential candidate for the March city council election have a week to file their paperwork. So far, a total of 11 residents have pulled papers from the city clerk's office. The filing deadline is next Wednesday, December 15. Here's the latest list, courtesy of City Clerk Lynne Fryman.

Joseph Armendarez
Parker Emerson
Robin Haulman
Rex Jaime
Michael Keenan
Ed Leavell
Douglas Lyon
Joseph Lyons
Opanyi Nasiali
Sam Pedroza
Jay Pocock

Friday, December 3, 2010

Ice skating on Indian Hill


There aren't many opportunities for outdoor ice skating in southern California. But a small ice rink at Indian Hill Boulevard and Second Street will be open to the public until 9 p.m. today. Just a warning though, the ice is not real. It's actually a polymer compound sprayed with a non-toxic glide enhancer called "synthetic hybrid ice." Either way, the kids are definitely enjoying the experience and won't get cold if they take a tumble. Skates can be rented on site for $5.

Tonight is also the holiday tree lighting ceremony. Head down to the Claremont Depot for the event featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus, carolers and family activities. The event begins at 5 p.m.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Claremont donut shop owner sentenced for ivory smuggling

The owner of Pixie Donuts on Base Line Road by Vons will not serve any jail time despite pleading guilty to illegally smuggling ivory from endangered African elephants.

In federal court yesterday, Moun Chau was handed 2 years of probation and a fine of $3,800.

Chau pleaded guilty to importing the ivory back in April. He could have faced up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 under the terms of his plea agreement.

You can read more background about this story here.

City Council election update

The March city council election is beginning to take shape. A total of 8 potential candidates have thus far pulled papers for the upcoming city council election. The candidates will be vying for 3 open seats on the council. And the race is wide open. Mayor Linda Elderkin will not run for a second term. Councilmember Peter Yao has resigned from the council due to his selection to the Citizens Redistricting Commission. Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza will be the sole incumbent in the race. Here's a list of those who've pulled papers from the city clerk. The filing deadline is Wednesday, December 15.

Joseph Armendarez
Robin Haulman
Rex Jamie
Michael Keenan
Ed Leavell
Joseph Lyons
Opanyi Nasiali
Sam Pedroza

Commission to consider landfill services

The Community Services Commission will consider the final destination of Claremont's trash at tonight's meeting. The city has received two landfill services bids from the County of San Bernardino for 20 years and from Republic Services in Orange County for 25 years.

The city is recommending the SB County proposal. According to the city staff report, their proposal will save the city $325,652 over the first 10 years of the contract.

Also on the agenda, the commission will hear about a 20-year agreement with Recycled Wood Products for green waste disposal and an update on the Sycamore Canyon Park rehab project. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the city council chambers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Smoking ban extended

Smoking is now banned in the Village West public plaza, at the Claremont Depot and on the small 2nd floor balcony in the parking structure on First Street. The city council voted 3 to 2 in favor of the ban at last night's council meeting.

Smoking is still permitted in the walkways going into the Village West public plaza, the adjacent sidewalks and patio areas of restaurants like Casa Moreno and The Back Abbey that are in the plaza.

Smoking is already not permitted in city parks, the Claremont Wilderness Park, on Thompson Creek trail and near the entrances of government buildings.

No smoking signs will be posted in the areas announcing the new regulation. Smokers caught breaking the law are subject to fines.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Yao will serve at his final council meeting tonight

After 8 years of service to the city, Councilmember Peter Yao will sit at the council dias for the final time at tonight's meeting. Yao will resign from his position at the end of the month after being selected to serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commission of California.

The council will need to decide how to move forward for the next 2 months with only 4 council members. They can appoint someone to serve in the position until the March 8 council election or choose to leave the seat vacant.

The council will also consider amending an ordinance that bans smoking in city parks to include public plazas. If approved, smoking of tobacco products will be prohibited in the Village West public courtyard outside of the Laemmle Theater.

The meeting beings at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chamber.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Yao is in!

Peter Yao will be serving on the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The councilmember was chosen among the 36 finalists out of an initial pool of nearly 31,000 applicants.

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime," he said.

This morning, 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 2 from other parties were selected randomly by the State Auditor to serve on the commission. The 8 selected are now tasked with choosing the final 6 to form the 14-member commission.

Yao's selection means he will resign from the Claremont city council sometime before the end of the year. He will not seek another term on the council in the March 2011 election and is barred from serving as an elected officials for the next 10 years.

The commission is charged with redrawing California's Senate, Assembly, State Board of Equalization and Congressional districts based on information gathered during the 2010 census. Their work will continue until September 2011.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yao finalist in state commission selection

Councilmember Peter Yao has made the final cut for the Citizens Redistricting Commission, charged with redrawing California's Senate, Assembly, State Board of Equalization and Congressional districts based on information gathered during the 2010 census.

The 36 remaining candidates, 12 Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 12 not affiliated with either of those two parties, are hoping to be selected to the 14-member commission.

Eight of the final 14 commissioners will be selected randomly tomorrow morning in Sacramento by the State Auditor. The event will be live streamed here for those interested in watching. It begins at 10 a.m.

The State Auditor must randomly draw the first 8 names—3 Republicans, 3 Democrats and 2 that are either Decline-to-State or belong to another party. Those first 8 commissioners will then select the final 6—2 from each subpool—by December 31, 2010, to form the Commission.

Good luck Peter!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend Events

There's a couple fun events going on around town this weekend.

The Pilgrim Place Festival features crafts, food and a Thanksgiving singalong show. Free Admission. It runs today and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For reggae music fans, head down to Pitzer College on Saturday for their annual reggae festival. The lineup includes DON CARLOS, a founder of Black Uhuru, Garth Dennis, Four time grammy nominee from Black Uhuru and Wailin, High Tide, Fountain of Roots, Lionesse and
DJ Neightball. The free event begins at 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Measure CL trailing in early results

It's still early but the numbers aren't looking good for Measure CL, the $95 million school bond. Here's what we have so far from the LA County Registrar/County Clerk.

MEASURE CL Votes Percent
CL - SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT BONDS - YES 1,059 39.25
NO 1,639 60.75
Registration 24,617
Precincts Reporting 8
Total Precincts 35
% Precincts Reporting 22

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Public input stifled at city council meeting

Residents often take advantage of the opportunity to make comments to elected officials at public meetings like city council and school board meetings. But at Tuesday night's city council meeting, Councilmember Larry Schroeder didn't seem to like the comments of one resident.

Michael Keenan spent his 4 minutes of public comment talking about Measure CL. Keenan does not support the school bond and shared his views with the council. But halfway through his comments, Schroeder cut him off, arguing that Measure CL is not within the city council's jurisdiction.

You can watch the action unfold at this link. Click on the October 26 video and skip ahead to about the 15 minute mark.

People have addressed the city council on all sorts of topics, from state laws on medical marijuana to human rights violations in China and the cooking shows at the Claremont library. Technically speaking, much of what people bring up during public comment is not directly under the council's purview. Schroeder never objected before.

Maybe he didn't like the particular speaker's opinions about Measure CL. Maybe he didn't like the speaker. Regardless, the city council has historically given speakers free rein during public comment to talk about whatever they want. And kudos to Mayor Linda Elderkin for standing up for that right. In the future, I hope the council continues to give speakers their 4 minutes without being rudely interrupted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Missing teenager found

Deontay Antone Barlow, the Claremont teenager who disappeared from his home Thursday afternoon, turned up at a hospital in Downey. Hospital staff notified his family and he was released to his mother on Monday night. It's how he ended up at the hospital but police said he did not have any injuries. Police have not yet interviewed him but are happy that he's been found. "Luckily he's home safely," Claremont Police Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen said.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Missing teen sought

A developmentally disabled teen went missing yesterday, according to Claremont Police. The 18-year-old man was last seen at his residence in the 600 block of South College Avenue at about 4 p.m. His name is Deontay Antone Barlow. He is described as an African American male, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 110 pounds with short brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a grey sweater, blue jeans and blue shorts. According to police, the teen is disabled and has the mindset of a 7-year-old juvenile. Those who have any information are asked to contact the Claremont Police Department detectives at 909-399-5411.

Friday, October 15, 2010

California Beer Festival comes to Claremont

Tickets are still available for this weekend's California Beer Festival. The event will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday just outside of the Packing House in Village West.

About 30 beer booths will line the north and south sides of First Street between Oberlin and Cornell avenues. The beer vendors will offer craft beers from microbreweries around California. Event organizers are hoping to attract between 800 to 1000 beer enthusiasts from around the region for the event.

Participants can expect live music from 3 different bands, including Rey Fresco, Orlando Napier and the Dogs. Food will be available for purchase from Eureka Burgers, which plans to open in the Packing House later this year, Tutti Mangia Italian Grill and Casablanca Mediterranean restaurant.

General admission is for the event is $40. Tickets will be sold at Rhino Records, the Hip Kitty or online at the Beer Festival's website. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the non-profit Dyslexia Awareness Resource Center.

Since alcohol will be served at the event, organizers are working to get discounted rates on taxi cab fares from the event and for local hotels. Discounted designated driver tickets for $25 will also be sold to those who want to attend the festival but not drink alcohol.

The California Beer Festival has run successfully for 2 years in Ventura. If the event is successful in Claremont, the Festival may become a permanent annual fixture in the city.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Claremont's sanitation plans

There was a lot of trash talking at last night's city council meeting. The first announcement was a deal made during closed session between the city and its sanitation employees. In exchange for some concessions from the employees on CalPERS benefits, the city agreed to put its sanitation cost/benefit analysis on hold for at least 5 years.

City Manager Jeff Parker then announced plans for a new 20-year contract between Claremont and San Bernardino County for trash disposal. The agreement includes even lower tipping fees than the city's current rate with an Orange County landfill. With the 20-year agreement, the city is off the hook from joining the costly Waste-By-Rail program through Los Angeles County, which would have led to skyrocketing sanitation bills for Claremont residents.

The city also came up with a 10-year agreement with Recycled Waste Products in Pomona to haul the city's green waste. All the agreements above have yet to be officially approved by the council and will appear on an upcoming city council agenda.

Still there was excitement about the announcements from both council members and those attending the meeting.

"Not only is this making the program more efficient but its also very proactive and kudos to [the city manager] for making that happen," Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza said. "A 20-year contract is unheard of and that's a fantastic piece of news."

Measure CL on Facebook

Measure CL supporters now have a Facebook page to call their own. So far the Yes on CL page only has 32 supporters, compared to the anti-Measure CL page, which has 36 supporters. I'm guessing those numbers will change before the November 2 vote on the $95 million school bond.

Measure CL will need at least 55 percent of voters backing it in order to pass. Measure Y, the $48.9 million school bond passed just 10 years ago, was passed with 68.85 percent of the vote.

To learn more about the hottest topic in town, you can visit both the supporters' website here and the No on CL website here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Final Cruise Night tomorrow

After 15 years, Cruise Night in the Village is coming to a close. The final show will run tomorrow night from 5 to 8 p.m.

Organizer Sandy Coglietti, owner of the Village Grill, expressed frustration over her dealings with the city and neighboring business owners who oppose the event.

Among her complaints are the city's regulation limiting Village parking to one hour between 3 and 5 p.m. before the event and the requirement for her to hire a police officer who hands out parking tickets to Cruise Night participants.

"I feel like I'm paying to have someone here to give out tickets to my guests," she said in an interview last week. "That's not what I want and that's not what Cruise Night is about."

Cruise Night has been an instituation in the Claremont Village for the last 15 years.

"I love Cruise Night. A lot of people do. I've gotten so many calls from people who love it asking how they can help," Coglietti said. "I'm just tired. I'm tired of fighting the city and I don't want to do it any more."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Claremont to be a host city for Amgen Tour of California

Good news for bike fans. Claremont has been selected as a host city for the Amgen Tour of California, considered the premier cycling race in the United States.

The city and Amgen officials have organized a celebration ceremony and press conference to announce the news later today. The community is invited to the Train Depot for the 5 p.m. event and is encouraged to wear yellow to show your support.

Among the speakers will be Mayor Linda Elderkin, Claremont Chamber of Commerce president Andrew Behnke and former professional cyclist Tony Cruz.

Check out this video
, featuring Claremont city council members, to get a better picture about the 2011 race. Claremont's stage is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Monday, October 4, 2010

No on Measure CL Facebook page

A community group has created a Facebook page targeting the school bond Measure CL.

The Claremont Taxpayers for Common Sense do not support Measure CL and are urging residents to join them in their crusade against it.

Those interested in joining or taking a look can visit it here.

I have not seen a Yes on Measure CL page out there.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

City Council meets tonight

The City Council will meet tonight for the second time this month. The agenda looks lighter than the previous council meeting, which ran well after midnight.

Among tonight's agenda items is a request for the council to approve the final parcel map to divide 11.45 acres of Bernard Field Station land into 4 distinct parcels.

The 11.45 acres is owned by Harvey Mudd College and is located north of the Foothill Boulevard frontage road between College and Dartmouth avenues.

The purpose of the subdivision, according to the city staff report, is so that Harvey Mudd can sell half the land to Claremont Graduate University. "Neither academic institution has any developments plans at this time," the report reads.

Still, future development on these properties seems likely. As part of the approval, the city is asking for an agreement requiring a future developer to construct improvements such as street lighting, sidewalk, curb and gutter and undergrounding of utilities.

Also, the subdivider has been required to reserve a 10-foot private easement across the frontage of the parcel map, along both College Avenue and the Foothill Boulevard frontage road. That would allow for space to build a shared bike/pedestrian path and additional street lighting when the properties are developed.

The council will also conduct a 2-year review of their ordinance restricting salons and day spas in the Village and consider changes to funding for the city's Community Based Organization and Homeless Program.

Claremont Wilderness park closed

The Claremont Wilderness Park will be closed until further notice due to dangerous fire conditions. The park has been closed since Sunday.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Los Angeles Montain areas. A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures will create extreme fire behavior.

To keep cool in the hot weather, the city is offering the Hughes center as a "cool zone." Claremont residents are invited to enjoy the air-conditioned facility, which will be opened until 9 p.m. The Hughes Center is located at 1700 Danbury Road.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Claremont Day tomorrow

Just a reminder, tomorrow is Claremont Day at the Fair. Claremont Day starts with a horse race named in honor of our City, followed by a parade and a community heroes' celebration at The Stage in Park Square. There will also be an area set up that will highlight Claremont organizations, services and programs.

Community Day parades feature community organizations and groups from high school marching bands to floats, police and fire departments, City dignitaries, mascots and classic car clubs.

Coupons for Claremont Day are available at City Hall, the Hughes Center or at the Claremont Chamber of Commerce. The coupons allow visitors to enter the fair for only $5 rather than the $17 regular priced admission. Coupons must be used before 5 p.m.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Dangerous intersection?

Two pedestrians suffered moderate injuries after being struck by a vehicle yesterday evening.

Around 6:15 p.m., the pedestrians were walking in a crosswalk at Bonita and Cambridge avenues. An elderly driver was leaving a church service at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church when he hit the pedestrians. His exact age was not immediately known.

"The driver said the sun was right in his eyes from the sunset and he could not see the pedestrians," Claremont Police Lieutenant Dennis Smith said.

The vehicle was not moving very fast but the pedestrians were both knocked to the ground, Lt. Smith said. They were transported to a local hospital, suffering from non-life threatening injuries.

No further information was immediately available.

In November 2009, a Claremont man died after being struck by a car in the same intersection. The 88-year-old man was crossing the street in a motorized scooter when he was hit by a vehicle. He died 13 days after the accident in the hospital.

Friday, August 27, 2010

DUI checkpoint this Sunday

The Claremont Police Department will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint this Sunday at an undisclosed location within the city. The checkpoint will run from 6 p.m. and end at 2 a.m.

Drivers will be stopped long enough for officers to verify they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Motorists will also be checked for valid driver licenses and ensure they are wearing their safety belts.

The Claremont Police Department has already run 2 sobriety checkpoints earlier this month.

Catherine Shelton will be missed


Photo from Facebook

Catherine Shelton, 42, was the woman involved in Wednesday morning's tragic traffic collision in Village West. She did not survive her injuries.

Shelton was loved by many in the community and is described as a caring person who made everyone around her feel comfortable. She was very social and had a wide circle of friends.

A 13-year Claremont resident, Shelton was a former member of the Disaster Response Team of the local chapter of the American Red Cross and served as a board member of Claremont school's PFA.

Shelton was also very active in the business community. She worked as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Town & Country and was an active member of the Claremont Chamber of Commerce.

She was also a mother of a 19-year-old son who recently graduated from Claremont High School.

She will be greatly missed by those who were lucky enough to get to know her.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Village pedestrian accident update

Claremont police have confirmed in a press release that the woman who was struck by a vehicle in the Village today did not survive her injuries.

According to the release, police were called at 10:40 a.m. regarding a traffic collision. When police arrived, they found a badly injured female who had been run over by a vehicle. The woman was transported to Pomona Valley Medical Center where she succumbed to her injuries at 11:21 a.m.

According to police, the driver of the vehicle is Brenda Monahan of Claremont. She was interviewed by police and later released at the scene.

According to witnesses, Monahan dropped off a friend on the south side of First Street near 21 Choices. Shortly thereafter, the vehicle accelerated forward up onto the sidewalk, hitting the victim, witnesses said.

Tire marks along First Street show that the vehicle continued to travel on the sidewalk, coming to a halt about 100 feet away. The vehicle finally crashed near the entrance to Bua Thai Cuisine.

The name of the victim has not been released by police, pending notification of the next of kin. The Claremont Police Department Traffic Bureau is investigating the incident.

Monahan is the owner of Three French Hens in the Village. She recently signed a lease with the city to move her business into a location on First Street, near where the accident happened. As part of the lease, Monahan agreed to be Claremont's business "concierge," handing out information to visitors about businesses in the city.

Pedestrian hit on First Street in Village West

A female pedestrian was struck by a motorist on the 400 block of West First Street in Village West.

Police have blocked off traffic between Indian Hill Boulevard and Oberlin Avenue for several hours while investigating the collision. The accident was first reported at 10:40 a.m.

Claremont Police Lieutenant Karlan Bennett said information was not available about the victim or her condition, pending further investigation.

"My guys are out there right now trying to figure out what happened," Lt. Bennett said.

The CCB will post an update to this story as soon as new information comes in.

South Claremont power outage expected to be fixed soon

A power outage in south Claremont is expected to be fixed this afternoon. The outage has affected homes near Arrow Highway and Indian Hill Boulevard since yesterday at 2:22 p.m. According to Southern California Edison's power outage center, the outage is due to equipment failure and repair crews are working to get it fixed. Their estimated time of restored power is 3 p.m. today.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Pet Licensing & low-cost vaccination programs

Attention dog owners. The city of Claremont and the Inland Valley Human Society have launched an amnesty program to encourage residents to bring their pet licenses into compliance without a penalty.

From September 13 to September 27, penalty fees will be waived for pet owners licensing their animals at the Humane Society, located at 500 Humane Society Way in Pomona.

In order to license a pet, Claremont residents will need a copy of the pet’s current rabies certificate as well as spay/neuter certificate if applicable. Licenses range from $40 for unaltered dogs to $20 for altered dogs. Seniors receive a discounted fee of $5 for altered dogs.

Many dog owners purchase I.D. tags for their animals and believe this is the only form of identification needed. While an I.D. tag is optional, it is required by city and state mandates that each dog be issued and wear a valid license. Unlike an I.D. tag, a license has the number of the local humane society where the dog is registered, and a numbered code.

If your dog is reported lost, the humane society can look up the information in the computer and determine all important contact information for the owner including address, phone number and whether the dog has a current rabies vaccination.

The Inland Valley Humane Society assists dog owners with getting a reduced fee rabies vaccine for their pets by holding vaccination clinics on the shelter premises.

On September 14, from 7 to 8:00 p.m., the Humane Society will hold a low cost vaccination clinic at College Park in Claremont. The clinic will be held on a first-come-first-served basis and there is an 8:00 p.m. cut-off time. Humane Society staff will also be on hand to license your pet.

For more information, please contact the Humane Society Licensing Department at (909) 623-9777 extension 652 or 653.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Claremont's community heroes for the Fair

It's that time of year again. The Los Angeles County Fair opens its doors Saturday, September 4. Claremont Day at the fair will be on Thursday, September 23, where residents can get a discounted entrance to the fair.

Fair officials have announced Claremont's community heroes to be honored this year. Junior hero Langston Coleman-Brown, a Claremont High School student, has contributed more than 1,300 hours of volunteer service in the past two years for the city’s Human Services Department.

Adult Hero Rosemary Henderson is also a very active volunteer. She is involved with many senior issues and serves on the Claremont Committee on Aging, co-chaired the development and implementation of the Postal Alert Program, participated in the development of the Senior Master Plan for Claremont, is a member of the Senior Finance Committee and chairs the Claremont Senior Foundation.

Chuck Farritor is being honored with the senior Community Hero award for his many years of community service. Farritor served on the board for Pomona Valley Workshop, which helped children with special needs. Active in Democratic politics, Farritor served as president of the Claremont Democractic Club. Farritor also volunteered with the Claremont Police Department in the citizen’s patrol program.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Claremont salaries compared to Bell

The story of the summer has been the outrageous salaries being pulled in by city staff and council members in the city of Bell near downtown Los Angeles.

Bell City Manager Robert Rizzo was earning nearly $800,000 per year, their police chief Randy Adams earned $457,000 a year and Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia was earning $376,288 annually. All resigned after their salaries were exposed by the Los Angeles Times.

In addition, 4 out of 5 Bell city council members were raking in about $100,000 per year.

In reaction, Claremont City Manager Jeff Parker added an item on his most recent weekly report about salaries for top city staff and council members in Claremont. Here's what he wrote:

As the media reports on the City of Bell's salaries for council and administrative staff, residents across the country are discussing the compensation of their own City officials. In accordance with the City of Claremont's open communication philosophy, the City of Claremont makes this information readily available to the public.

Each member of the City Council receives $400 per month compensation and an additional $30 per Redevelopment Agency meeting. The City Council does not receive retirement benefits and during the 2010-12 budget process, medical benefits were eliminated from council's budget. City commissioners are appointed by the City Council and receive no compensation.

As detailed in the budget, the City Manager's annual salary is $211,000 and the Assistant City Manager's annual salary is $165,000. The Police Chief's annual salary is $174,000. These salaries are based on surveys of comparable cities with similar services and populations to Claremont's 37,000 residents. Cities surveyed include Upland, Brea, La Verne, Glendora, Arcadia, Azusa, Covina, Rialto, Montclair, Monrovia, and Chino.

A complete list of salary ranges for each City position is available upon request through the City Clerk's office. For additional information, please call the City Manager's Office at 909-399-5441.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

City Council meeting tonight

In its last meeting before the summer break, the city council will have a lot to discuss. The open session meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the city council chamber.

The council will consider a proposal by a private operator, Children's Source, LLC, to run the city's preschool and Tiny Tots programs. With the recent budget cuts, funding was no longer available for the city to subsidize the programs. The lease agreement would allow the operator to use the city's facilities over the next 5 years.

The owner of boutique gift shop Three French Hens is interested in taking over the vacant retail space in the Village West parking structure. Owned by the city, the retail space was recently vacated by Bedol What's Next and is available for lease. The council will be asked to approve the terms of the lease agreement.

Two Packing House businesses have applied for funding from the city for business improvements. The city has a CDBG job creation grant to attract new businesses and support business expansion in the city that create new jobs in town.

The Hip Kitty Jazz & Fondue Lounge wants to expand into the former art gallery space located in the Packing House. The Packing House Wine Merchant also wants to expand into the former Claremont Forum bookstore space. Both are requesting $50,000 from the city as the projects would create 2 full time equivalent jobs for the businesses.

The council will also consider relaxing the city's code on business signage to allow businesses more freedom to advertise and promote themselves. If approved, the amended ordinance would:

-Allow businesses to have freestanding identification signs in addition to building-mounted signs.
-Permit multi-tenant center signs if included as part of a center sign program.
-Establish that the city will adopt a multi-tenant center sign enhancement program to promote more effective identification of tenants.
-Allow center identification signs that have only the name of the center in addition to the multi-tenant signs.
-Remove distance requirement for freestanding freeway-oriented signs and permit the identification of more than 3 tenants on freestanding freeway-oriented signs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

DUI Checkpoint this Friday

The Claremont Police Department will hold a DUI checkpoint this Friday at an undisclosed location in the city. Drivers will be stopped long enough to ensure they are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, have valid driver licenses and are wearing their seat belts. Funding for the checkpoint came from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The checkpoint will run from 6 p.m. until 2 a.m.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

CGU announces new President

Claremont Graduate University announced Professor Deborah Freund as its 15th president in a news release on Wednesday morning, bringing to an end a search process that began in February 2009 when former CGU President Robert Klitgaard announced his resignation.

Freund was vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and provost at Syracuse University from 1999-2006, and has held the title of distinguished professor of public administration and economics from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs since 2004.

“To be asked to lead an educational institution of such distinction and accomplishment as CGU in these changing times for higher education is a challenge and a privilege,” Freund said in a released statement. “Meeting such challenges going forward will be possible because of the dedication, talent, and enthusiasm of CGU's trustees, faculty, students, alumni, and staff.”

Look for the full story in Saturday's edition of the COURIER.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

COURIER mentioned on Jeopardy!

Last night, a contestant on the popular game show This is Jeopardy! spent his interview time on the show talking about the COURIER's Police Blotter.

This week is Kid's Week on Jeopardy! featuring contestants in the 12-year-old age range. Host Alex Trebek asked contestant Ethan from Woodland Hills what he likes to read. Ethan explained how his grandmother lives in Claremont and he enjoys reading the "Claremont Police Blotter" when he comes to town to visit her. He said he likes reading about the strange crimes people get involved in and finds it entertaining.

Thanks Ethan for the nice plug for the COURIER on national TV.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More info on last week's high speed chase

For those following the news about the high speed chase on Base Line Road, here's a bit of background information.

Last Tuesday morning, a Claremont police officer attempted to pull over a silver BMW on Base Line Road near Padua Avenue for not having a license plate. The officer was not aware at the time that the car had been stolen. Rather than pulling over, the driver sped off, heading eastbound on Base Line.

At Benson Avenue in Upland, the driver ran a red light and crashed into 2 vehicles, killing one man and injuring another. One witness said the car was moving about 55 miles per hour at the time of the collision.

The man who died as a result of the crash had strong ties to Claremont and people in the city. William Blanchard, 76, grew up in the famous Gumby house in Claremont, attended Webb School and graduated from Pomona College. His father was a music professor at Pomona for many years.

The driver is Brett Fagan, 25, of Covina. He is being held at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

According to Kenneth Ford, Chief Deputy Regional for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Fagan was released from prison on June 2 after serving most of his 2-year sentence for a previous auto theft. He was not a part of California's controversial early release program.

He was on parole and in violation of his parole at the time of the accident, police said. Fagan faces charges that include murder, auto theft and felony evasion of police.

A memorial service will be held this Saturday for Blanchard beginning at 11:15 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Upland. The church is located at 262 N. Euclid Ave.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Claremont man accused of weapon's smuggling

First there was the donut shop ivory smugglers. Now Claremont has another accused smuggler, this time in heavy weaponry.

Joseph O'Toole, 79, is accused by federal prosecutors in Florida of attempting to broker a deal that would send as many as 2000 AK-47s to Somalia, a country with a UN-imposed arms embargo since 1992.

Today, Somalia is known for its lawlessness that has allowed piracy to flourish in the waters off its coast.

O'Toole and a co-conspirator, Israeli national Chanoch Miller, were both arrested in June in Florida. According to the indictment, the men unknowingly communicated their flight and payment plans for the weapons deal with an undercover agent from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Many in the community know O'Toole as a friendly man who is active and involved in the community. He ran for city council in 1997 and has been a vocal opponent of the Base Line affordable housing project in recent years. I even wrote about O'Toole a couple months back on an unrelated topic here.

His arraignment hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 9 in Ft. Lauderdale. A more detailed report of Mr. O'Toole's alleged crimes will appear in Saturday's edition of the COURIER.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Suspected bank robber arrested

Police officials in Orange County have arrested a man they believe robbed the Citibank in the Old School House last month.

Erik von Holland, 47, was arrested earlier this week at his home in Brea on suspicious of robbing the Citibank and 3 other banks in Orange County, according to Claremont police.

Called the "100s and armed bandit" by law enforcement, Mr. Holland was identified through surveillance photographs taken of him during the heists. He wore baseball hats during the robberies but otherwise did not conceal his appearance.

Mr. Holland was identified by the Tustin Police Department while police were showing surveillance photos to Orange County Parole Agents. A parole agent recognized the suspect and provided a name to police.

He was arrested by Orange and Fullerton police officials at his residence. The involved agencies are working with FBI with the intent of filing multiple federal counts of bank robbery.

The Claremont robbery took place on Friday, May 21.

Don't forget to vote

Yes another election day is upon us. Be sure to head out to the polls and cast your ballots.

If you recently moved or don't know where to vote, you can look it up by your address at LA County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website.

Check back here for election news updates. I'll post information on election results as soon as they become available.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Open casting at Piano Piano tonight

Can you sing along to every top 40 hit played on the radio? If so, there's an open audition tonight at Piano Piano by the Double Tree Hotel.

The reality TV show "Don’t Forget The Lyrics" will host an open casting at the popular hangout from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. See below for more information.

We are looking for fun and interesting contestants who know the lyrics to the biggest hit songs of all time. You must be knowledgeable of song lyrics and willing to sing your heart out!

Whether you’re young or old, like Motown or Country, we are looking for all types. The songs are TOP 40 hits, ranging from the 60’s to present day.

If you love to sing, and want the chance to win
THOUSANDS of dollars, then we want to see you!"

For more information about the show, check out our website: www.dftl.tv

PIANO PIANO DUELING PIANO SHOW
DOUBLETREE HOTEL CLAREMONT
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2nd
FROM: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
http://duelingpianopiano.com/

RockStar Karaoke will keep the party going until 1a.m.!

For those who haven't been there yet, here's a video of what to expect at Piano Piano.





Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Robber photos released

Police have released the following photos of the suspected bank robber who stole an undisclosed amount of cash from Citibank in the Old School House.

On Friday, May 21, the man pictured below walked into the bank and handed the teller a note stating, "I'm armed. Remain calm and I will not hurt anyone." The robber asked the teller for $5000 in cash.

The FBI have dubbed the man "the 100s and armed bandit." He is also suspected in bank robberies in the cities of Orange and Santa Ana.

No weapon was seen during the robbery, but police say the man implied in the note that he was carrying a weapon.

Witnesses and police described the robber as a white male, late 30s to early 50s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, 180 pounds, wearing a baseball cap, a button down dark green shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone who has information regarding the "$100s and armed bandit" can call the Los Angeles Federal Bureau of Investigation office at 310-477-6565 or the Claremont Police Department at 909-399-5401.


Friday, May 21, 2010

City staff gets creative in looking at budget deficit

As the July deadline approaches, the city council will take another look at the city's 2-year budget and consider ways to shore up the remaining budget deficit.

At the previous budget meeting in March, the council agreed to eliminate about 20 staff positions. They also pushed the discussion on the remaining $235,000 deficit for 2010-11 and $750,000 deficit in 2011-12 to tomorrow's meeting.

According to a staff report, some of the cuts being recommended are ones directly impacting city council members. The council is being asked to limit their yearly travel budget to $6000 per council member, leading to about $30,000 in savings.

Staff is also recommending the elimination of medical allowances for city council members beginning in 2011-12. Right now, only Peter Yao accepts medical coverage through his position on the council so it will be interesting to see how he reacts to the proposed cut. If approved, the benefits elimination will save the city $21,936.

The rest of the savings being proposed are not so clear.

A big chunk of the savings, about $286,000, comes from "anticipated benefit reductions" from city staff. However, since contract negotiations with staff union are still ongoing, there is no guarantee that these reductions will get approved by the unions.

Another $252,798 in savings comes from "shift of salaries from GF to RDA." This means a handful of employees will get their salary checks from the city's Redevelopment Agency rather than the General Fund. While this frees up money in the General Fund, there is no actual saving to the city in the grand scheme of things.

Other savings come from "revenue adjustments" and "overhead cost refinements" where staff anticipates greater revenue and reduced costs not previously accounted for. Those savings amount to about $351,000 over the next 2 years.

The council will meet Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the city council chamber. The COURIER will have a report on the meeting in our Wednesday paper.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Park closed due to fire training

The Claremont Wilderness Park will be closed for portions of today through Wednesday as the LA County Fire Department conducts its annual wildfire training exercise in the park.

The exercise runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. Mills Avenue north of Mt. Baldy Road will also be closed, except to residents.

LA County Fire, La Verne Fire, San Bernardino County Fire, the Forest Service and the Claremont Police Department will be participating in the training exercise.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New comedy club opens in Claremont

If you're searching for entertainment this weekend, you could check out the new comedy club opening in the Packing House. Comedian Bill Dwyer will headline the weekend's Grand Opening performances.

Seats are still available for Friday and Saturday night shows at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets purchased in advance cost $10 by visiting the Flappers website. Tickets are $12 at the door.

Here's a clip of Dwyer in action.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

4th of July winners

At last night's city council meeting, the Independence Day Committee announced this year's Grand Marshall, Honored Citizen, Honored Group and the 4th of July theme.

Here are the winners:

Grand Marshall - Paul & Kay Held
Honored Citizen - Rita Wodinsky
Honored Group - the Claremont After School Program (CLASP)
Theme - Star Spangled Claremont
(The theme was chosen among 95 entries from Claremont Kindergarten through 6th grade students. The idea came from Elizabeth Boyett of Western Christian School, who will take part in the parade.)

Congratulations to this year's winners!

Police arrest man twice in 4 days

In today's issue of the COURIER, we ran a story about a Claremont police officer who was injured while pursuing a burglar.

On Saturday, Officer Matt Hamill broke his ankle in 2 places after jumping from a 12-foot fence during the pursuit. Another officer eventually tracked the suspect down about 200 yards from the scene. He was hiding in some bushes.

Police arrested Robert Hunt, 19, of San Dimas for stealing alcohol from Vons and resisting arrest causing serious bodily injury.

During the booking process, Hunt's fingerprints were taken and entered into the Cal-ID print system. On Tuesday, a match was returned on the prints for a residential burglary that occurred in Claremont on April 24.

During that incident, a resident in the 400 block of Platt Boulevard woke to voices heard in his home and the sound of footsteps leaving through the front door. It was discovered that someone entered the home and stole a laptop.

Police were able to locate several latent fingerprints. Initially there was no match in Cal-ID to the prints and they were maintained pending a match.

Yesterday in court, Hunt pleaded guilty to misdemeanor petty theft for stealing alcohol from Vons and obstructing an officer. He was sentenced to probation.

As Hunt was leaving court, Claremont police detectives arrested him again for the residential burglary. Police are continuing to investigate if Hunt is responsible for additional thefts or burglaries.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Police nab prowler

Police arrested a 17-year-old Claremont resident involved in yesterday's hot prowl on Morningside Drive.

Yesterday around 2:15 a.m., a resident woke to the sound of noises in his home. He got up to inspect the cause of the noise and found a man in his 7-year-old daughter's bedroom.

He chased the suspect from the home and immediately called police. Police did an area check but were unable to immediately locate the suspect.

Based on forensic evidence found at the scene, police arrested the teenager at his home around 3:30 this afternoon. The 17-year-old lives less than a mile from the Morningside Drive home.

Police believe the juvenile entered the home on more than one occasion and are still trying to determine his motive. Nothing was ever reported stolen from the home.

He is currently being held at Los Padrinos juvenile detention center. Criminal charges should be filed by the DA's office soon.

Be sure to read Saturday's issue of the COURIER to learn more details of this unusual case.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Singleton sentenced to 6 months in jail

Tyler Singleton, a star athlete with the Claremont high school football team, earlier today was given a 6-month prison sentence for having unlawful sex with 2 underage girls.

Singleton, 18, and his family appeared at a Pomona courthouse this morning for the sentencing hearing.

He was arrested in February following allegations that he raped a 14-year-old classmate in a public bathroom in Cahuilla Park near the high school.

Singleton declined to give a statement during the proceedings. His mother, Rita Singleton, pleaded with the judge for leniency.

Prosecutor Lauren Guber read a statement from the 14-year-old victim, which stated that her "entire world had been turned upside down" as a result of the incident. The girl's mother also addressed the court.

Singleton's prison sentence will begin June 9, allowing him time to earn his high school diploma. Both he and the 14-year-old victim no longer attend Claremont High School.

Prowler enters home while residents sleep inside

An alarming piece of news about a "hot prowl" sent via the Claremont Police Department's E-Watch system today. The incident took place early this morning at a residence on Morningside Drive near Towne Avenue and Scripps Drive.

On Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at approximately 2:15 am, an unknown suspect entered a residence in the 1100 block of Morningside Dr. by forcing open a window. A resident awoke to noises heard in the house and found an unknown suspect in his 7-year-old daughter's room. The resident chased the suspect out of the house and the suspect was last seen running eastbound on Morningside Dr. The suspect was described as a male with light skin, 5'4 to 5'7, approximately 145 pounds, and wearing black clothing and a mask.

If you believe you have information that may assist in the investigation, please call Claremont Police Department Detective Bureau at (909) 399-5411. As a reminder, if you observe any suspicious activity, contact the Claremont Police Department by calling 911 or (909) 626-1296.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Donut shop owner pleads guilty to ivory smuggling

In case you missed this item in Wednesday's paper, the owner of Pixie Donuts up in the Vons shopping center reversed his not guilty plea to charges of ivory smuggling.

Earlier in March, shop owner Moun Chau plead not guilty to the charges that he smuggled ivory from endangered African elephants into the US in violation of federal laws and international treaties. If convicted, he could have faced a 25-year jail sentence.

On March 24, Chau entered a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. By admitting guilt in the case, his maximum sentence was lowered to 5 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 18.

Pixie Donuts is still open for business and has been for over 20 years. We've already heard from at least one loyal customers who stands firmly behind the business owners despite Chau's involvement in the illicit ivory carving trade.

Here's a photo of some of the ivory Fish and Wildlife Services officers found in the back room of Pixies Donuts during a search warrant in 2006.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Smoking ban rejected

"I choose free will." - Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza, quoting a song from Rush.

The proposed outdoor ban on smoking in Claremont was not passed on Tuesday night. The city council voted 4 to 1 against the prohibition measure, citing potential negative impacts on businesses and a lack of evidence that second-hand smoke in outdoor settings is any sort of health risk.

Nearly 20 speakers addresses the council on the issue during the meeting, most of whom were opposed to the ban. One speaker, Ed Tessier, mocked the idea, saying the council should next ban strong smelling perfumes, the Metrolink because it causes pollution and crying babies.

Only Councilmember Larry Schroeder supported the proposal, saying that "the public good often trumps the personal choice."

Both Councilmember Peter Yao and Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza questioned why the item was even on the council's agenda. Back in 2008, the council already discussed banning smoking in the public plaza and decided against it at that time.

They criticized the Community Services Commission for wasting the time of an already understaffed city staff with an item that was clearly not a priority for the city council.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is smoking in public a nuisance?

The city council will meet tonight to discuss an ordinance that would bar people from smoking in many public places around the city.

The proposed law should generate some controversy, raising questions about personal freedoms of smokers and the government's role in addressing public health concerns due to smoking. Others are asking what the law's affect can have on businesses in town.

Smokers certainly enjoy having their beverage of choice and a smoke while lounging on patios outside of Starbucks, Some Crust Bakery, the Press, the Hip Kitty, Coffee Bean, the Back Abbey, etc. Casablanca in the Packing House even rents out hookahs on their patio. The law would bar smoking in all these places, and some are worried it will push business out of town.

The proposed ordinance would also ban smoking at the Farmer's Market, in the Village West public plaza and at city functions with large gatherings. College students would be affected too, at their outdoor cafes and restaurant seating areas.

Here's the city staff report on the subject. On page 2, the report acknowledges the reality of the situation. Even if this law is passed, it will be just another leaf blower ordinance that is largely ineffective and rarely enforced.

Tonight's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at city hall.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A busy weekend in Claremont

It will be a busy weekend in Claremont with lots of fun stuff to do. Tonight Earth Day kicks off with an art opening and music at the Packing House Forum combined with a Green Market.

Beginning at 6:30 p.m., the art opening will feature directors of Otterspace Arts, Jen Rosen and Mary Beth Fletcher and music by the Sugar Mountain Mama Serenade.

On Saturday, Earth Day continues in the Village with activities throughout the day. Vendors and exhibitions on green businesses will line Second Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

And don't forget about the annual Spelling Bee on Sunday, hosted by the Friends of the Claremont Library. The event will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at Taylor Hall.

Come out and support "the Weekly Buzz" - the COURIER team of managing editor Kathryn Dunn, features writer Brenda Bolinger and yours truly!

Beep beep!

Thanks to reader Christine Meek for sending in this photo, taken by her son Parker. This road runner has been spotted on Hood Drive in north Claremont several times dating back to the summer.

Christine asked me if there are other road runners running around town, what they eat and where they nest. I'm no bird expert, but I can copy and paste from Wikipedia. Here's what I found:

The breeding habitat is desert and shrubby country in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. It can be seen in the US states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, and rarely in Arkansas and Missouri.

The Greater Roadrunner nests on a platform of sticks low in a cactus or a bush and lays 3-6 eggs which hatch in 20 days. The chicks fledge in another 18 days. Pairs may occasionally rear a second brood. This bird walks rapidly about, running down prey or occasionally jumping up to catch insects or birds.

It mainly feeds on insects, small reptiles, rodents, tarantulas, scorpions and small birds, as well as fruit and seeds.
Although capable of flight, it spends most of its time on the ground, and can run at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Freeway pollution flip flop

One of the biggest issues in Claremont in recent years was the affordable housing project on Base Line Road.

Dozens upon dozens of residents came out against the project, mostly citing studies that say children living near freeways can develop serious health problems from the air pollution.

But when the city council on Tuesday night approved the sale of that land to a private residential developer, there was one lone voice in the audience who addressed the council.

Former city council candidate Opanyi Nasiali said, "I still want to be on the record as saying that the city should not be allowing any new residential developments adjacent to the freeway."

And what about the other residents and groups who came out so fiercely against the affordable housing project being built in their neighborhood? The ones who denied being NIMBYs (not in my backyard) and were only concerned about the welfare of children who would end up living there?

At the March 23 council meeting, Joseph O'Toole chimed in. His group, Citizens for the American Dream, strongly opposed the affordable housing project and relied upon the freeway pollution argument.

"I agree to the market-priced housing on the area next to the strawberry patch," O'Toole said. "We went through many years of fighting [the affordable housing project] and we're very happy with market-based housing."

I guess his argument goes that poor people don't have a choice on where to live and would be stuck living by the freeway. But people with money are free to live where they want and can choose to buy a home by the freeway at their own risk.

But the truth is that all children, rich or poor, do not have a choice on where they live. Their parents are the ones who ultimately make those decisions. And those studies cited by Citizens for the American Dream and others show that children up to the age of 18 and the elderly are the ones most likely to be harmed by freeway pollution.

So if O'Toole and other former opponents of the affordable housing project were genuinely concerned about children's health, they would not support any residential development along freeways in Claremont.

The fact that O'Toole and other former opponents are now supporting "market-based housing" just screams of hypocrisy to me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

City council to discuss property sales

The city council will meet tonight for its first of 2 April meetings. To begin the meeting, the council has a closed session hearing on negotiations with the city employee unions.

During the open session beginning at 6:30 p.m., the council will be asked to approved the sale of Redevelopment Agency-owned land at Base Line Road and Towne Avenue. The 2.66 acres of land was purchased back in 2005/06 to build an affordable housing project.

If the sale goes through, the agency will be losing money on the property to the tune of $210,000. It was purchased for $1.96 million and the proposed sale prices is $1.75 million.

The proposed buyer is City Ventures, a residential developer based in Los Angeles.

Another item on the agenda centers around the sale of land at the Bernard Field Station after an appeal was filed on the approval of parcel maps there.

On March 2, the Planning Commission approved the creation of 4 parcel maps on 11.45 acres of the property. Owner Harvey Mudd College plans to sell half of the property to Claremont Graduate University.

Michael Keenan filed the appeal on the premise that the zoning and land use designations are inconsistent and inappropriate.

Harvey Mudd has announced in the past their intention to build a parking lot on the property, however the staff report states that neither HMC or CGU "has any development plans at this time."

The meeting takes place at the city council chambers at city hall. Residents can also watch the meetings live here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

7-Eleven and Claremont

Thanks to the COURIER reader who wrote in with the following bit of information.

We all know how residents effectively and thoroughly ran 7-Eleven out of town. The irony pointed out below is the long-standing connection between Claremont, through Masatoshi Ito of CGU, and the 7-Eleven corporation.

"The official name of Peter Drucker School of Management in Claremont is “Peter F. Drucker & Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management.”

Masatoshi Ito is the owner of 7-11. He owns the entire 7-11 corporation; both in the US and in Japan.

Ito's association with Peter Drucker/Claremont spanned over 30 years. Mr. Ito is now over 90 years old but traveled to Claremont just a few months ago in celebrating Drucker's 100 year centennial. We have no 7-11 store, but Claremont does have 30 years of 7-11 connection.

It was Peter Drucker's insistence that Ito's name be added to his school. Drucker was so impressed with Ito's customer focus success and highly ethical operation all grounded on principles learned by Ito from Drucker. Ito's monetary donations to the school was significant but far short of the level in getting his name on the school.

The dichotomy of the large number of Claremont residents demonizing 7-11 while the world renowned "management guru" having given this 7-11 owner the highest expression of praise.

Claremont is Claremont; I don’t think that even Drucker could have reversed a single resident’s opinion of 7-11."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Claremont power outage

A power outage has affected several homes in northeast Claremont. According to Southern California Edison's "outage center," the problem began at 8:57 a.m. due to an "equipment problem." Crews are currently trying to fix the problem.

The website estimates the power outage will continue until 12:15 a.m. early Wednesday morning. Residents can call the following number for the latest update. 1-800-655-4555

John Pixley blog

Claremont COURIER columnist John Pixley has his own blog called Queerx3. One of COURIER readers' favorite columnists, Pixley has been writing for the COURIER since the mid-1980s.

If you're a fan of his column and unique perspective, you'll definitely enjoy his blog. Be sure to check it out. Here, he explains the name for his blog:

I call it Queer3, because I'm queer in three ways: 1. I'm gay. 2. I'm severely disabled with Cerebral Palsy; hence, my physique, including my speech, is queer. 3. I'm a quaker (unprogrammed). Quakers have been called "a peculiar people." Stretch this a bit, and you get queer. I think this give me a pretty unique perspective on things.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Egg hunt and pancake breakfast tomorrow

The City of Claremont and the Rotary Club of Claremont will be hosting the Annual Spring Celebration and Egg Hunt tomorrow in Memorial Park. This event is FREE and open to the public. The candy hunt begins at 10:30 a.m. Pancake breakfast begins at 9 a.m.

DUI checkpoint tonight

The Claremont Police Department will conduct a DUI/driver's license checkpoint today at an undisclosed location.

The checkpoint will begin at 6 p.m. and end at 2 a.m. Saturday. Motorists will be stopped long enough to check their license and to ensure they are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Funding for the operation was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Friday, March 26, 2010

More staff layoffs being considered

The city council will meet tomorrow morning at a second budget workshop this month. With another major budget deficit on the horizon, the council will need to consider more deep cuts.

The city is preparing its 2011-12 budget and city officials estimate a $2.75 million budget shortfall over the next 2 years.

According to the staff report for tomorrow's meeting, about 20 staff jobs, both full and part time positions, could be eliminated. Among those recommended by the city manager are an economic development officer, city planners, a senior engineer, a community improvement officer, groundskeepers, tree trimmers and more.

According to the report, the cuts could save the city $1,083,727 in 2011 and $1,699,343 in 2012, leaving the city with a deficit of $750,299. Staff recommends dipping into the General Fund reserve to cover the remaining deficit.

You may remember that the city already cut about 15 percent of its workforce last year due to budget problems.

Tomorrow's meeting will take place at the city council chamber from 8 a.m. to noon. It is open to the public.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Making the list

For the second straight year, the Drucker School of Management at CGU was voted as one of the top MBA programs in the nation for general management by its students. The report comes from the Princeton Review and will be printed in the April issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.

The Princeton Review compiled the lists using data from a national survey of 19,000 MBA students attending 301 business schools. The 80-question survey asked students to report on classroom and campus experiences at their schools and rate their MBA programs in several areas.

To see the entire list of top MBA programs by category as printed in Entrepreneur Magazine, click here.

Foothill Transit neighborhood meeting

Those of you concerned about the proposed cuts to service by Foothill Transit can voice your opinions tonight at a neighborhood meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Foothill Transit will discuss the potential cancellation of 3 bus lines in Claremont. The lines include 197, 292 and 855.

Faced with a $12.5 million budget deficit, Foothill Transit is planning to discontinue 14 bus lines throughout its service area and trim services on several others.

The meeting will take place at the Joslyn Center at 660 N. Mountain Ave.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Appeal withdrawn, no 7-Eleven

Opponents of a 7-Eleven in Claremont will be happy to hear the convenience store has withdrawn their appeal of a negative Planning Commission decision. In other words, they're waving the white flag over their fight to open a store at Mills and Foothill.

The city council was scheduled to have a public hearing tonight at the council meeting and decide whether to overturn the Planning Commission decision. The item will not be discussed at tonight's meeting and the commission's original decision stands.

It would seem that the business applicant did not like its chances of getting 3 out of 5 votes at tonight's meeting. "They could tell which way the winds were blowing with the neighborhood and on the council," as one observer commented.

For now, neighborhood opponents of 7-Eleven can claim victory over the unwanted business. The Mills/Foothill building owner will have to go back to the drawing board and find a tenant willing to pay the high rent being demanded and, at the same time, be embraced by the neighbors.

But in this economy, it's certainly not easy to attract new businesses. The city might be stuck with an empty building at that corner for several more months.

I'd love to hear some viable suggestions for a successful business that area residents would regularly shop at in that building. Any thoughts?

Friday, March 19, 2010

New mayor in action


Here's a nice photo taken by Randy Scott of the Claremont Little League. Mayor Linda Elderkin was asked to throw out the first pitch at last Saturday's opening day. Elderkin used to be president of the Claremont Little League long ago. Good form mayor!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pomona College student detained by airport security

In today's paper, you can read about Pomona College student Nick George and his experience dealing with airport security. After a recent flight from his hometown of Philadelphia to Ontario, he was detained and interrogated by federal authorities for having Arabic language flashcards in his pocket. Now, the ACLU is suing the TSA, the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department on George's behalf. Here's a video of George explaining what happened.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7-Eleven opposition gets organized

I've seen some organized opposition during public comment at city meetings. Some people prepare speeches to exactly fit the 4-minute allotted time frame. Others have given slide shows to back up their arguments. But this one takes the cake!

It's a video posted on Youtube by David Sawhill, a resident who lives near the proposed 7-Eleven site. See below. Sawhill can't attend next Tuesday night's city council meeting due to an open house at Claremont High School where he works, so he's asked city staff to show the video during public comment in his absence.

In the video, Sawhill vividly describes the traffic hazards that neighbors believe will cause problems at the proposed business site and in his neighborhood. He's even come up with descriptive names for the hazards, like "the black hole," "blind man's curve" and "Can you see me now?"

The 7-Eleven opposition has also created a Facebook page, Say NO to Claremont 7-11, dedicated solely to stopping the business from opening at the location. So far, the page has attracted 37 fans.

The city council will hear the appeal on Tuesday, March 23. According to the appeal, which you can read in full here, the business applicant is willing to limit operating hours from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and alcohol sales from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Applicant appeals Planning Commission decision on 7-Eleven

A business applicant wants to open a 7-Eleven in a portion of this building at the corner Foothill Blvd. and Mills Ave.

A 7-Eleven in Claremont may still be a possibility.

The proposed business owner filed an appeal with the city clerk on Wednesday afternoon. Last week, the Planning Commission voted 5 to 2 to deny a conditional use permit for the business. The appeal will give the city council the final say in the matter.

The applicant hopes to open the convenience store at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Mills Avenue. At recent city meetings, residents living in the area have expressed strong opposition to the 7-Eleven, fearing increased crime, traffic accidents and decreasing property values. Others complained about the proposed sale of alcohol until midnight so near to the Claremont Colleges and the fact that 7-Eleven will be open 24 hours a day.

City clerk Lynne Fryman said staff has not determined a date that the appeal would be heard by the city council.

Nude biking okay, says CPD Chief Paul Cooper

Riding your bike around Claremont while naked will not get you arrested, according to Claremont Police Chief Paul Cooper. Well, sometimes it won't.

Cooper said police will not take action against a nude biker as long as witnesses are not offended by the nudity or the biker is not getting sexual pleasure from his/her activity.

"This is a specific intent crime," Cooper said. "The persons exposing their genitals have to receive some type of sexual gratification from this. There's no evidence to support that [in this case]."

The discussion came at last night's council meeting, sparked by public comment from resident Ralph Ruiz, a retired LAPD cop who likes to complain about anything and everything that Claremont cops do.

On a recent Friday evening, Ruiz was driving near the Village with his 14-year-old daughter when a group of 25 to 30 scantily clad college students came riding by on their bikes. Ruiz called the cops, who stopped a handful of the naked riders but let them go on their merry way.

"When you have 25 to 30 students out there naked on their bikes, you have to cite and you have to make arrests ," Ruiz said. "You can't just let them do whatever they want."

Mayor Pro Tem Sam Pedroza called the incident a "shocking reminder that we do live in a college town."

Councilmember Corey Calaycay chimed in on the discussion, saying Claremont is trying to bill itself as a tourist destination and public nudity might harm the city's image. He also seemed offended by what he read in a Pomona College student newspaper about the incident.

"One of the writers referred to one of our officers as a 'douche bag' for apprehending her," Calaycay said. "I just thought that was out-of-line, disrespectful to our officers."

Wait, did Calaycay just say 'douche bag' up on the dais? New Mayor Linda Elderkin couldn't repress a chuckle upon hearing the statement from her colleague. Neither could I.

At any rate, Cooper suggested the possibility of a "public nudity ordinance" that could deter further nakedness around town. The council didn't seem too interested at this time.

Linda Elderkin is Claremont's new mayor


New Mayor Linda Elderkin presents outgoing mayor Corey Calaycay with a plaque from the city.


There's a new mayor in town. Linda Elderkin became Claremont's mayor at last night's city council meeting. Elected in 2007 and a Claremont resident since 1994, Elderkin takes over the reigns from outgoing mayor Corey Calaycay.

"I am delighted to be the mayor because I love Claremont so much," she said. "I really believe strongly I never would have run for council anywhere else. Where Corey said he grew up here, I grew up here as a community person."

Calaycay received a plaque and flowers from the city and was thanked for a job well done. As mayor, Elderkin will lead city council meetings and represent the city at public events. Sam Pedroza, also elected in 2007, will take over as Mayor Pro Tem.

Every March, the city council votes on who will serve as Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for the upcoming year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Will south Claremont get its grocery store?

A decision at tonight's city council meeting could lay the groundwork for a new grocery store in south Claremont.

The city is proposing a new ordinance to allow drive-through banks and pharmacies in 4 specific areas around the city in order to attract new businesses to Claremont. The ordinance comes on the heels of a request by Walgreens Pharmacy to open a location at the Peppertree Square shopping center at Indian Hill Boulevard and Arrow Highway. Walgreens has said they will only open a location if they could have a drive-through.

City officials are pushing for the drive-through ordinance because of the opportunity to get a Fresh and Easy Market at Peppertree Square. The grocery store has agreed to open a location at the struggling shopping center contingent upon a Walgreens opening there too.

Expect several south Claremont residents attending the meeting to sway the council in favor of adopting the ordinance. Since Albertsons closed in early 2007, residents in the southern part of town have complained about long drives up to Foothill Boulevard to get their grocery shopping done.

Some will likely be on hand to urge the council not to adopt the ordinance, claiming the city compromising its values to the will of large corporations.

Also on the agenda is an amendment to the city’s Development and Disposition Agreement with Jamboree Housing Corporation, the developer of the proposed affordable housing project on College Avenue. The city is expecting to get $2,750,000 from Los Angeles County to help build the project.

The open session meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at city hall. Residents can also view the council meetings live online by visiting the city website.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Get your tickets, support Claremont parks

The City of Claremont and the Ontario Reign Hockey Team are hosting Claremont Night at the Citizen’s Bank Arena this coming Saturday, March 6.

Proceeds from the ticket sales will be used to support park improvements for Claremont’s youth sports organizations.

The city's parks and fields are used by more than 3,700 youths each year in organized sports groups.

Tickets to the Ontario Reign game can be purchased individually are at a discounted rate for groups. Tickets are available in the upper or lower levels of the arena and range from $12 to $20 for adults and $10 to $15 for children.

To purchase tickets, contact the Human Services Department at (909) 399-5490. The discounted ticket price offer is not available at the Arena Box Office or TicketMaster.

The Citizen’s Bank Arena is located at 4000 E. Ontario Center Parkway, CA 91764. The game begins at 7 p.m.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Update on ivory smuggling case

Accused ivory smuggler Moun Chau, owner of Pixie's Donut Shop in Claremont, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment hearing this morning in Los Angeles.

Mr. Chau is charged with illegally importing wildlife into the US. Federal authorities found raw and carved ivory in his donut shop after serving a search warrant in 2006. The ivory came from African elephants, classified as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

According to Thom Mrozek, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Mr. Chau's case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder. His next court date is scheduled for April 27. Mr. Chau is now free on a $5,000 bond.

7-Eleven meeting tonight

The city is hosting a neighborhood meeting tonight on a proposed 7-Eleven that a business owner wants to set up at the corner of Mills Ave. and Foothill Blvd.

On February 16, the Planning Commission voted to deny a conditional use permit for the business. But they don't have the final say in the matter as the city council will likely discuss the business at an upcoming meeting.

Most residents attending the Planning Commission meeting were strongly against opening a 7-Eleven at the location, complaining about potential crime, alcohol sales until midnight, the 24/7 business hours. They also felt the Mills/Foothill intersection is dangerous.

Tonight's meeting, beginning at 7 p.m. in city hall, will bring together neighbors, city staff and the business owner. The meeting will give the business owner a chance to a some PR work and try to change perceptions that 7-Eleven is a bad fit for the neighborhood. The meeting is open to the public.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Learn about food with Ecoterra

Looking for something interesting to do tonight?

If you're curious about the food you consume every day, the nice folks at Ecoterra in Village West will be hosting a discussion and film screening at Scripps College. The program includes speakers about food in America and food served on college campuses. A free screening of the documentary Food Inc. will be shown. Ecoterra will be providing organic food from their store.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Motley at Scripps College and is open to the public. See film trailer below.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Budget workshop tonight

Put a smile on the mayor's face by attending tonight's community budget workshop. The event allows residents to learn about the city's finances, vote on priorities for the city and participate in the decision making process as Claremont begins to consider its next 2-year budget cycle.

After less than 15 residents appeared at last week's workshop at the Blaisdell Center, Mayor Corey Calaycay was not happy about the low turnout.

"People often complain about issues after the fact but this is an opportunity for them to be involved and engaged as the process is unfolding," Calaycay said. "I'm hoping to see a much larger turnout on Tuesday."

The workshop will take place in the Padua Room at the Hughes beginning at 7 p.m.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pizza 'N Such on Today Show

In case you missed it, you can watch the Today Show piece on Pizza 'N Such by clicking on the link here.

Film crews from the show visited the Village restaurant in January to look at their new menu design and interview "menu engineer" Gregg Rapp. Pizza 'N Such owners Mike and Sue Verbal and their daughter Laura took a crash course from Rapp to help beef up their menu.

After taking the course, the Verbals tinkered with their menu's design, color, text and placement of food items. Mike Verbal said the subtle changes have made a big impact on sales.

"It brings in customers more regularly because instead of just getting the same pizza, people order different things off the menu," he said. "I wish I knew about this 30 years ago. I wouldn't be here right now. I'd be retired!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aloha trolley


Claremont's trolley has moved on to greener pastures. And sandy beaches. At Tuesday's city council meeting, city manager Jeff Parker announced that the city had sold the trolley to a buyer in Hawaii.

Since the council decided to end the trolley experiment in April, the vehicle has been collecting dust while parked at the city yard.

Using a trolley broker, the city sold the trolley to the buyer at a cost of $75,000. During the planning stages, the city estimated the total cost of the trolley to be $1.3 million over 3 years. It only ran for about 5 months.

The trolley was shipped off from a Long Beach port last week and could already be at its destination. Several city officials I talked to didn't know who bought it or what it will be doing.

Bon Voyage trolley! While you were the butt of many jokes in Claremont, you will also be missed by many in the community.