Monday, January 30, 2012

Deadline for 2011 Excellence in Design Awards is Thursday

The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2011 Excellence in Design Awards is this Thursday, February 2.

This is the 31st annual contest which aims to recognize recently completed building projects in Claremont that best exhibit the city's standards of design excellence. Award winners are selected by members of the Architectural Commission. Awards are presented in several categories including new construction, restoration, landscaping, signs, sustainable development, and more.

In order to be eligible, the project must be in Claremont and have been completed prior to December 31, 2011. Projects completed in years prior to 2011 are eligible as well. Projects involving only interior alterations will not be considered for an award.

Anyone may nominate a project. Nomination forms are available at Claremont City Hall, 207 HarvardAve., and online at

Claremont seniors tax assistance

AARP Tax Aide volunteers will be at the Joslyn Center starting in February to help Claremont residents file all required 2011 tax documents. Please call the Joslyn Center at 399-5488 to make an appointment.

Democratic Club meeting Wednesday

The Democratic Club of Claremont is preparing to host its monthly meeting this evening at 7 p.m. in Pilgrim Place's Porter Hall.

Professor Andy Winnick, professor of Economics at Cal State Los Angeles and President of The American Institute for Progressive Democracy, will be the noted speaker. Mr. Winnick will discuss Germany's progressive educational system and its system of labor relations. Mr. Winnick taught in Germany for several years, where he also helped raise his family.

For more information visit or call 632-1516.

another warm week in Claremont

The weather will remain unseasonably warm this week, starting off with a high of 70. Temperatures will dip slightly tomorrow, peaking in the high 60s. Claremont may experience some more gusts in the latter part of the week, but temperatures will soar into the 80s on Thursday and Friday.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Saturday memorial to honor Judy Wright

The life of beloved Claremont resident, historian, and former mayor and council member Judy Wright will be honored at a memorial service to be held tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Mabel Shaw Bridges Hall of Music.

A reception will follow the memorial at Claremont Heritage, 840 N. Indian Hill Blvd.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Ms. Wright's name to Claremont Heritage, P.O. Box 742, Claremont.

City of Claremont looks for new hires

Claremont City Hall is hiring.

The city is beginning the search for 3 new staff members. The 2 full-time positions are community and human services manager, and management analysis. A part-time senior programs coordinator is also wanted. Here are the details on each position as posted by City Manager Tony Ramos:

Senior Programs Coordinator

The department is looking for an enthusiastic, highly motivated, public service oriented individual with excellent communication skills to assist with the coordination of the Committee on Aging and its various ad-hoc committees. The Committee on Aging is a Brown Act committee representing the needs of the aging population serving the community and human services commission and city council. The committee has 10 ad-hoc committees representing a variety of needs from volunteerism to wellness. The position will also assist with a number of programs offered through the Claremont Senior Program including special events, presentations, nutrition services, and customer service operations. Hours of work are generally Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; some holiday, weekend and evening hours may be required.

Salary: $12.91 to $15.59 per hour. Recruitment Closes: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 1:00 p.m.

Management Analyst

The department is seeking a dynamic, creative and experienced management analyst to assist management in a wide variety of areas. The management analyst will take the lead role in the development and on-going monitoring of the department’s budget, including budget forecasting and analysis. He/she will be responsible for grant fund management and compliance, and be the staff liaison to key community groups for collective input on special projects. Other duties include: oversight of the city’s transportation program, provide project management, statistical research, legislative research, and contract management on a wide variety of projects for the community and human services department, and will develop and review administrative policies. He/she may supervise fulltime and/or part-time staff.

Salary: $4,611 to $5,571 per month. Recruitment Closes: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 1:00 p.m.

Community and Human Services Manager

The department is seeking a highly motivated, self-starter, with excellent customer service skills to manage, plan, direct, organize, and supervise, the areas of sanitation, building maintenance, cemetery operation, and parks and facilities. The community and human services manager serves under general supervision from the community and human services director. He/she will plan, schedule, coordinate, and direct work programs involving sanitation, building maintenance, cemetery operation, and parks and facilities.

The position will oversee a number of exciting projects including a cemetery expansion project, cemetery fund analysis, park renovation projects, solid waste rate study, sustainability upgrades, Williams Park upgrades, Sycamore Canyon restoration, Padua Park future development, park/building accessibility projects, lease agreement for Thompson Creek Trail, annual weed abatement and certification, ADA accessibility projects in parks and facilities, and LLD rate changes and administration. Other duties include preparing and administering the departmental budget, coordinating departmental activities, and maintaining effective relationships with other city departments and outside agencies.

Salary: $6,471 to $7,818 per month. Recruitment Closes: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 1:00 p.m.

For more information on any of the above positions, or to apply, visit

Claremont protesters demand lower water rates

About 50 people gathered in front of Golden State Water Company’s Claremont office on Thursday, picketing to demand lower water rates.

The mid-afternoon protest was the latest initiative led by Claremont Against Outrageous Water Rates, a local grassroots movement dedicated to fighting against another wave of water rate increases set to hit Claremont in 2013. Golden State Water filed its application to charge higher prices with the California Public Utilities Commission last July. The process is currently in review and a decision is anticipated late this fall.

For many, like Richard and Karen Foshay, simply placing a sign in their yard is not enough.

“Too many people are lethargic,” Ms. Foshay said. “Something has to happen and we have to get the word out. This is a start.”

Protestors sprinkled themselves along the sidewalk in front of Claremont’s Sprouts shopping center, shirts and signs emblazoned with crimson and white, calling for passersby to “Act Now” and “Stop the Golden State Water Rip-Off.” For the Foshays, retired and on a fixed income, rising costs have made them question whether or not they will have enough funds to continue to call Claremont home.

“It’s scary,” Mr. Foshay said.

Local Jan Rainbolt shared similar fears. While caring for her sick father at her Claremont home, Ms. Rainbolt saw her monthly water bill skyrocket past $300. She was able to get a medical baseline allowance from Southern California Edison to help pay for expenses accrued by her father’s need for oxygen and heat. However, she says Golden State Water does not provide medical baselines for those in need.

“We have more laundry, my dad needs to be showered a couple times a day. There is no other way around it,” said Ms. Rainbolt. Her desire to lower rates for those in similar situations drove her to take up her own sign and protest. “People need to be made aware.”

Thursday’s rally was just one of several gatherings the grassroots movement has held in town, making a presence in town with yard signs and shirts, unifying against Golden State Company at November’s CPUC hearing. This week marked the first public protest and visual display of opposition.

Golden State representative John Dewey, the company’s community education manager, was present on Thursday to speak with protesters. The company says it is trying to engage in a more open discussion with its customers, according to Denise Kruger, Golden State Water’s senior vice president.

“This [demonstration] tells me that we have to do a better job communicating with our customers,” Ms. Kruger said.

The next step includes the creation of a committee involving Golden State Water employees, Claremont officials, and members of Claremonters Against Outrageous Water Rates, according to Ms. Kruger and Mayor Sam Pedroza, who made an announcement about the committee at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Golden State Water also plans to start distributing a quarterly newsletter to keep its customers up-to-date.

See Saturday's COURIER for full story.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Claremont reports lowest crime rate, noted "green" community

Newsbite from yesterday's State of the City luncheon:

According to crime data analysis for the city of Claremont, 2011 reported the lowest level of part one crimes in the last 25 years, announced Mayor Sam Pedroza at Tuesday afternoon’s State of the City address.

Part one crimes involve homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, theft, grand theft auto, and arson, according to police.

In addition to the council's report on last year's happenings and 2012's focus, Claremont was honored as the first city to receive the California Green Communities’ “Silver” status for outstanding sustainability efforts.

Claremont is one of 4 cities honored with the award for exemplary environmental practices. Monrovia, Riverside, and Santa Clarita have followed Claremont’s lead in achieving the silver ranking.

“Claremont has been a role model for other cities,” said Hal Conklin of Southern California Edison and president of USA Green Communities. “Nobody has done it quicker or better than Claremont."

California Green Communities was founded in November 2009 with the goal of challenging the state’s cities to reduce carbon emissions and build creative programming geared at living a more sustainable lifestyle by 2012. Among notable city achievements is the Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Program (CHERP), helping Claremont homeowners acquire upgraded, energy-efficient homes, installing solar voltaic panels at city facilities, and the creation of the Claremont Bicycle Priority Zone.

“The city takes its commitment to sustainability seriously. It is a priority for the city council and is a consideration in every project and program we provide. Achieving the Silver level status validates the tremendous work this community has done,” said Mayor Sam Pedroza, later adding, “We can be proud of our accomplishments in these areas.”

Claremont will continue to hold sustainability as a top city priority, according to Mr. Pedroza. Staff is currently working on updating its sustainability plan, which will include the council’s goal of retrofitting up to 100 homes throughout the city with energy-efficient features.

“We will continue to identify ways our organization can assist our residents to conserve valuable resources,” Mr. Pedroza said. “We have a lot to get done this year, but with the help of staff and our community partners we can do it. I look forward to next year’s State of the Citysharing the many accomplishments of 2012.”

For more on the city’s sustainable action plans and programming visit

Monday, January 23, 2012

Claremont Golden State Water protest this Thursday

Claremont residents angry about continued water rate spikes are invited to join a march in front of Golden State Water Company's Claremont location this Thursday, January 26, from 3 to 5 p.m.

The protest is being organized by members of "Claremonters Against Outrageous Water Rates," a group led by residents Hal Hargrave and Randy Scott dedicated to fighting against Golden State Water's rate increases.

The protest will take place at 915 W. Foothill Boulevard, Claremont. For more information contact

Friday, January 20, 2012

Explosive Pomona art installation this weekend

Flares and fire are at the center of a unique (and free) experimental art exhibit to be hosted by Pomona College tomorrow evening from 5 to 7 p.m. An information booth on the event will be open from 3 to 7 p.m. at The Pomona College Museum of Art.

“Performance at Pomona,” hosted by the museum of art, is a trio of performance pieces presented by renowned artists Judy Chicago, James Turrell and John M. White. Each performance recreates pieces that each of the artists previously presented in the 1970s.

The schedule is as follows:

-5 p.m. at the Memorial Gymnasium in the Rains Center Athletic Complex (220 E. Sixth St.) : Mr. White will recreate Preparation F, exploring issues of masculinity and gender. Mr. White previously presented the display in 1971. In the piece the Pomona-Pitzer football team will change clothes and scrimmage.

-6 p.m. on Merritt Football Field, behind Rains Center Athletic Complex: A Butterfly for Pomona, A fiery performance inspired from Ms. Chicago's 1970 Atmosphere environmental performance will use flares and fireworks as part of its display.

-6:45 p.m. outside Bridges Auditorium (450 N. College Way): The program will close with another displaying using fire, a recreation of Mr. Turrell's Burning Bridges, a 1971 visual-performance piece made with road flares.

Free parking can be found in the college's lots or at the South Campus parking structure (north of First Street on Columbia) and street parking along College Avenue. Handicap parking is available on 4th Street near Bridges Auditorium. Food will be available for purchase along Stover Walk near Marston Quad.

For more information call 621-8283 or visit

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Claremont permanently closes 2 prominent walkways

Construction is underway on De Paul and Marygrove Roads, sealing off 2 long-time public walkways from Arrow Highway. The construction project, which broke ground on Tuesday, will bring an end to more than a year of debate between residents and city officials concerned about access to these public passages.

The city will spend $34,400 to build solid walls to block both walkways, according to an October report. In addition, a wrought-iron gate will be constructed on Marygrove Road. Nhi Atienza, who has lived near Marygrove Road for the last 8 years, says the addition is “a welcome change” and will help keep her neighborhood safe.

“This is just such a big sigh of relief,” Ms. Atienza said. “We have waited and waited, went through numerous meetings and kept feeling like we were getting shot down every time. This has been a neighborhood-wide effort.”

Construction of the walls is scheduled for completion early next week, according to City Engineer Craig Bradshaw. The gate installation will be completed the following week.

Full story to be published in Saturday's edition of the COURIER.

Brass thief steals CHS emblem

Claremont High School has one again fallen victim to brass theft. A brass “California Distinguished School” emblem was pried off a brick wall in the CHS plaza between Tuesday, January 10 at 11 p.m. and Wednesday, January 11 at 5:30 a.m. The emblem is valued at over $1,000. A similar brass Wolfpack emblem was stolen from the high school last May, but a connection is unknown.

Read Saturday's edition of the COURIER for more on Claremont crime.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Claremont police drop lawsuit against city, Chamber

The Claremont Police Officer’s Association has dropped its charges against the city of Claremont and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce, according to members of the CPOA Wednesday morning.

The CPOA filed a lawsuit against the 2 agencies last month alleging that their First Amendment rights were violated at the 2011 Village Venture Arts and Crafts Faire.

“We want to move on with the community and get back to everyone working together for the good of all,” said Detective Rick Varney.

As stated in the lawsuit, CPOA Vice President Robert Ewing informed Maureen Aldridge, Claremont Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, that Claremont police officers, dressed in civilian clothes, wanted to set up a table to pass out flyers stating that the city was "not prioritizing public safety” during contract negotiations. The lawsuit further stated that Ms. Aldridge told the CPOA that they could set up a station next to the Claremont Police Department booth on Village Venture at no additional charge. However, the police were later forced to take down their booth because it was set up in an inappropriate section of the faire and no other table space was available.

The city and Chamber released a statement in response to the lawsuit last week saying that the CPOA was given permission to pass out fliers at the Police Command Post, but not to set up a separate table elsewhere. The CPOA was asked to remove the table they set up away from the command post “in accordance with Village Venture policies and in fairness to the 474 paid vendors,” stated the press release.

The 3 groups met early Wednesday morning to “discuss and clarify” the events that took place at Village Venture and found “the lawsuit resulted from an unfortunate series of miscommunications and misunderstanding,” according to Detective Robert Ewing.

“We were able to work through the issues that had come up,” he said

“The city and Claremont Chamber of Commerce continues to support and appreciate the men and women of Claremont Police Department and everything they do to keep the citizens, businesses and visitors safe and welcome in our community,” the city and Chamber representatives said in a statement.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Market at Claremont's Peppertree Square moves forward despite recent closures

Despite the recent closure of more than a dozen Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market locations, plans for the grocer to anchor Claremont’s Peppertree Square are still “a go”, according to City Manager Tony Ramos and others aboard the project.

The national grocery chain announced the “temporary closure” of 12 of its stores last week, 7 of which are located in southern California. Stores temporarily shutting down operations within the next couple weeks include Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Bakersfield, Fountain Valley, Fresno, Hemet and Ontario.

Claremont’s Peppertree Square, located on the corner of a busy intersection in Claremont, remains an ideal space for the grocers.

“We [Fresh & Easy] are still looking to expand to a wide variety of neighborhoods where people are looking for more fresh food options,” said Brendan Wonnacott, a company spokesperson. “Claremont fits what we are looking for.”

Mr. Ramos remained confident in the construction of a Fresh & Easy at Peppertree as of late last week, and stated that he had “not been notified of any impact” that the closures may have on its construction.

“My impression is that [the recent closures] are independent of Fresh & Easy’s decision to locate here,” he said.

Complete story in the Wednesday edition.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Botanic Garden debuts walking club

This month Claremont’s Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden is debuting a new Garden Walking Club, inviting garden participants to join for an hour-long walk along the greenery. The group meets every Saturday at 8: 30 a.m.

The Garden Walking Club was founded by a group of garden frequenters looking for a low-impact exercise with the benefit of enjoying the beauty of nature around Claremont. Walking participants can choose between 2 RSABG-led groups within the club: one focused on exercise and the other on providing an educational experience. The group is open for all ages and is free of charge.

Club registration will be taken at the RSABG admission kiosk. RSABG is located at 1500 N. College Avenue. For more information call 625-8767.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Colin Tudor promoted to interim assistant city manager

Colin Tudor has been promoted to Claremont’s interim assistant city manager. He will begin duties immediately.

Mr. Tudor will take over the position that was left vacant after Tony Ramos was promoted to city manager last month. Former City Manager Jeff Parker left Claremont for a similar position with the city of Tustin.

As interim assistant city manager, Mr. Tudor will play a key role in working with staff to develop the city’s 2-year budget plan and will be responsible for overseeing personnel, public information, risk management, and technology for the city’s Administrative Services Department.

Mr. Tudor has been serving the city of Claremont as assistant to the city manager since 2008. He came to the city of Claremont in 1998 to work in the Human Services Department. In 2006 he was transferred to the city manager’s office where he worked as a management analyst.

In addition to representing the city on the Gold Line Technical Advisory Committee and Recovery Act Funding Coordinator, Mr. Tudor recently spearheaded Claremont’s involvement in the AMGEN bicycle tour last July, for which he was recognized with the Chairman’s Award at the Claremont Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony as well as the City Manager’s Award.

Mr. Tudor’s knowledge of the city will play an integral role in his new position. Having worked on the city’s 2-year budget plan for the last 3 cycles, Mr. Tudor is a key resource for Claremont, according to Mr. Ramos.

“He has a great depth of experience,” Mr. Ramos said. “He was part of our negotiation team with the police department, and will be a great asset with that in the spring. He knows our community and understands the issues we are going through.”

Mr. Tudor will act as the city’s interim assistant city manager for the next 6 months while the city focuses on preparations for its budget plan.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Claremont City Council amends camping ordinance, addresses Occupy

Changes to Claremont’s camping ordinance approved Tuesday will require Occupiers to petition to keep their encampment at city hall.

Claremont City Council unanimously voted to clear up language within the ordinance to include activities such as Occupy Claremont. The amended ordinance states that it is against city law to “camp, occupy camp facilities, use camp paraphernalia or store personal property” without permission granted by the city council.

Changes were necessary to address the recent Occupy movement sweeping the nation, an emergence not anticipated when the ordinance was first put into place 6 years ago.

“[The amendment] is not intended to endorse or deny the rights of any particular group,” said Mayor Pro Tem Larry Schroeder. "The way the ordinance was set up was not the way it was intended and it needed to be fixed.”

The city originally recommended the council adopt the amendments as an urgency ordinance, which would allow the changes to take effect within 3 days, giving Occupiers little chance to petition its encampment.

The proposal before you...needs further and deeper consideration,” said Gregory Tolliver, a participant of Occupy Claremont who addressed the council at Tuesday’s meeting. “Your responsibility is not to stop a protest. Your responsibility is to to protect safety, protect freedom in this community and show compassion and practical response to its problems.”

However, the council unanimously opted to approve the ordinance without urgency, giving Occupiers 45 days to petition to keep their tents in place, a decision that seemed to pacify many.

“It is an equitable solution for all parties involved,” said resident Betty Crocker. Ms. Crocker has voiced supportive of the Occupy Movement itself, but is concerned with the city’s lack of enforcement with its ordinances.

Claremont resident Mark Vinsonhaler, who has been Occupying city hall since the beginning of December, says he and others of Occupy Claremont are eager to put encampment disputes behind them and focus on other relevant issues to the cause.

Occupiers plan to petition to the city council to continue their protest on the steps of Claremont City Hall.

“Unfortunately, all we’ve been able to talk about is First Amendment Rights. We haven’t had the chance to really talk about some of the issues at hand like unemployment or the rising foreclosure rate,” Mr. Vinsonhaler said. “Hopefully we can work through these issues so that we can start focusing on other important causes.”

Read Saturday’s edition of the COURIER for the full story.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Claremont Chamber, city respond to police lawsuit

Claremont Chamber of Commerce released a statement Tuesday afternoon declaring that the chamber “did not ‘chill’ [the Claremont Police Officer’s Association’s] First Amendment Rights.”

The Claremont Police Officer’s Association filed a complaint against the city of Claremont and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce in late December claiming its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated at this year’s Village Venture. The chamber says it is “surprised and concerned” regarding the claim, and that the accusations made by the CPOA are false.

The chamber states that space within the section of the annual arts and crafts fair where the police table would have been allowed had been sold out since the end of August. Police did not approach the chamber about their table until 2 weeks prior to the mid-October event.

While the chamber says it told police they were allowed to distribute flyers next to the Police Command Post at no charge, the CPOA was not authorized to move its table to the crafts section, where they eventually moved without permission. Though they were asked to close down their table, the chamber says it permitted the officers to continue walking around the event passing out their flyers.

The chamber’s release states in full:

“The Claremont Chamber of Commerce has had a long and productive relationship with the Claremont Police Department. We are surprised and concerned that the Claremont Police Officers’ Association (CPOA) has named the Chamber in a lawsuit and is alleging that the Chamber violated CPOA’s First Amendment rights at the 30th annual Village Venture held on October 22, 2011.

The facts are:
Village Venture is an Arts and Crafts Faire where participating vendors pay for booth space. Vendor applications are accepted beginning in June and vendors are notified in August of their booth assignment. All booth space in the Business and Organization block, where the Claremont Police Officer’s Association would have been placed, was sold out by the end of August.

CPOA approached the Chamber in October, shortly before the event, and requested permission to hand out fliers. In an effort to accommodate CPOA at this late date, the Chamber representative advised CPOA they could distribute fliers at the Police Command Post. CPOA was also advised there was no charge.
According to the Summons, Chief Cooper advised CPOA that they could not distribute their fliers at the Command Post. CPOA then moved a table into the Arts and Crafts vendor area without the knowledge of or permission from the Chamber. In accordance with Village Venture policies and in fairness to the 474 paid vendors, the Chamber asked CPOA to remove the table. CPOA asked if they could walk through the crowds and distribute their fliers. The Chamber representative responded that distribution of the fliers is permissible.

The Chamber did not ‘chill’ CPOA’s First Amendment rights. The CPOA was simply asked to follow the same rules as everyone else and to remove a table from an unauthorized area. In the past, police officers have assisted Chamber representatives when it became necessary to remove a vendor who had not timely applied for, paid or received a vendor permit.”

A closed session of the city council was held tonight to address litigation. In response to the CPOA lawsuit, several residents, including former members of the “No on Measure CL” came forward to share their own experience of restricted self expression at Village Venture 2010.

Claremont resident Kimberley George says she was approached by Village Venture security and told she could not walk around with her “No on Measure CL” sign.

“If someone has a diffference of opinion, how can some of the public, as well as people who are supposedly in positions of security or event management, not know about our freedom of speech and try to intimidate us and shut us down? In light of whats happening in Claremont, and with the police department experience at Village Venture Day...this has brought up this issue to me personally,” Ms. George said. “This shows me that there are some very uninformed people who don’t know about our freedom of speech and they don’t seem to know the difference from a person walking around with a sign and a booth at Village Venture Day.”

Though the city has not released an official statement regarding the lawsuit, Mayor Sam Pedroza noted that although the CPOA’s table was shut down at Village Venture, “the CPOA was allowed to walk the event and pass out their information.”

“The city has turned the defense of the case over to our third party administrator [Joint Powers Insurance Authority] for this ongoing litigation,” Mr. Pedroza added.

The city and chamber must notify the CPOA on how they wish to proceed with the case by Wednesday, January 18, according to the summons.

Claremont City Council meeting tonight

Claremont City Council will hold its first regular meeting of 2012 tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers.

The council will discuss charges pressed against the city by its police officers at a special closed session prior to the meeting. The Claremont Police Officer’s Association filed a complaint against the city of Claremont and the Claremont Chamber of Commerce claiming its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated at this year’s Village Venture. The full story can be seen in last Saturday's (January 7) issue of the COURIER.

Those wishing to comment on closed session items should arrive at 5:15 p.m. The council will hear public comment before recessing into its private meeting.

Items slated for open session include discussion of a timeline for revising the city's sustainability plan, dissolving its redevelopment agency (see Wednesday, January 4 edition of the COURIER for full story), and amendments to the city's camping ordinance. To view the full agenda visit

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sunny weather expected this week in Claremont

Locals can expect another week of beautiful weather here in Claremont. Highs will remain in the mid to low 70s all week with some wind expected today, according to the Weather Channel. High today is 75 with a low of 41 degrees.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Claremont Police investigating New Year's Day crash

Police are investigating an abandoned Dodge Stratus found New Year's Day in the middle of the northbound lane of Webb Canyon Road, north of Baseline Avenue. The keys were still in the ignition of the damaged car, according to Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen.

The vehicle was found at around 2:39 a.m. One of the tires had broken off and there was significant damage to the driver’s side of the car, said Lt. Vander Veen.

After investigation, police believe the car had gone off the east side of the road, hitting a drainage ditch before coming to a rest in the roadway. The owner of the car was contacted, and provided the name of the person who had borrowed the car that night. At 8 a.m. that individual reported the car stolen from a party. Investigation is ongoing.

Read more of the first police blotter of 2012 in today's edition of the COURIER.

Claremont makes next move toward water takeover

The Claremont City Council has approved the use of up to $300,000 of general reserve funds to further the fight against proposed water rate increases by Golden State Water Company. The money will also be used to explore the possibility of purchasing the city’s water system.

The decision was made unanimously in front of more than 150 people Thursday night gathered at a special meeting held in the Alexander Hughes Center. The topic of water, specifically looking at the purchasing of the water system, was the only item slated for discussion.

City Manager Tony Ramos and City Attorney Sonia Carvalho will meet Monday to begin mapping out plans, including hiring those necessary to properly analyze purchasing the water company. A utility consultant, appraiser and financial consultant will be among hiring expenditures.

City staff and council members will also prepare to meet with a coalition of cities to prepare plans for a united protest against Golden State Water. The coalition includes the cities of Barstow, Cypress, Placentia, and Stanton.

“I’m looking forward to moving forward with local control..for our water rates, local control for our destiny on water conservation,” said Mayor Sam Pedroza. “We also need to fight the rates, and I think that’s what we are looking at...really taking a full-hearted effort at going after and fighting these rates. This decision will define our careers as elected officials.”

Claremont and the other 4 cities within the coalition will contribute $5,000 each to further protest efforts against Golden State Water. The money will be taken from the City Manager’s contingency fund. The council also approved the use of $25,000 to $50,000 general reserve funds to take part in the ”evidentiary hearing process” to be held by the California Public Utilities Commission.

At least $250,000 from the general fund will also be needed for the initial research into acquiring the water system, according to Ms. Carvalho. Costs include covering consultants, advisors, appraisers and bond counsel in order for staff to do a thorough review of the purchase possibilities. Similar expenditures were made in 2004, the last time the city did an analysis to acquire its water. According to the staff report, the city spent more than $200,000 in that analysis. And costs are expected to continue to rise past the million-dollar mark if the city takes the next step after those reviews.

“None of these can be assumed,” explained Ms. Carvalho. “You have to carefully follow the process and there are certain findings to be made in public when you go down this road.”

Though the process of acquiring the system will be lengthy and costly as recognized by staff, council members and residents present, Randy Scott of Claremonters Against Outrageous Water Rates says it is time to stop “kicking the can” and go ahead with the purchase.

“We have been down this road before,” Mr. Scott said. “Previous mayors have said, ‘Coulda, woulda, shoulda...’ We should have done this. I’d really like and hope we have learned from these experiences. It’s time to break the monopoly of this company.”

Full story will be published in this Saturday's edition of the COURIER.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Council to talk water water at special meeting Thursday

A special meeting of the city council will be held Thursday to discuss ways to address proposed water rate increases to the city of Claremont by Golden State Water Company.

The public is invited to join the discussion as council prepares to take an official vote on taking control of the water system. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Alexander Hughes Center.