Readers comments 12-13-19
A thank-you from Podges
After 23 years of making gourmet sandwiches, a big variety of smoothies, delicious soups, and healthy juices, Podges Deli and Juice will be going out of business. Our last day to serve food will be Saturday, December 14. We thank our loyal customers and friends for supporting us these many years! Thank you!
What a blast it was to see the irrepressible music purveyors of Pomona on the cover of the COURIER.
Thank you to Mick Rhodes, Steven Felschundeff and the newspaper for featuring Lou Sr., Lou Jr. and Gregg Styles. This music store is a treasure because there is a certain music magic that these men have brought to our community.
My son, daughter and I have spent delightful times in Styles Music and have always appreciated the courteous, down-to-earth vibe that pervades the premises. Lou Jr. has been especially kind and thoughtful to us each time we visit. His positive attitude and friendly demeanor are legendary.
Even if you don’t play an instrument, you should visit Styles to soak up the truly independent and accommodating attitude you will experience. The folks at Styles are stellar and they sincerely deserve your patronage.
Our city council and other supporters of Measure CR tried to convince us that many basic city services would be lost if citizens didn’t vote for a sales tax increase. At their June 11 meeting the council declared a fiscal emergency, “Due to the impending structural budget deficit.”
Less than a month after CR was defeated, the city council allocated $187,000 for city employee bonuses to be paid from the $373,000 revenue surplus that turned up at the close of the fiscal year, June 30, just 19 days after the fiscal emergency declaration.
Finance Director Adam Pirrie, according to the November 30 COURIER, explained that the surplus was the result of “better than anticipated results in several areas, including higher property tax revenues, sales tax revenues, charges for services and increases in license and permit activities.”
I hate to think it, but was the fact of this revenue surplus withheld from the public until after votes were cast? Did staff inform our citizen city council of the surplus while the dire consequences of not passing CR were being pushed? Claremont voters deserve an explanation.
Secret budget committee
If Jim Keith thought the city’s utter lack of transparency related to Village South was a problem, “he ain’t seen nothing, yet.”
Councilmember Ed Reece and Mayor pro tem Jennifer Stark are doubling down on secrecy and backroom deals with their latest creation, the black-box committee, uh, I mean the citizens budget committee.
Mr. Reece and Ms. Stark have decided that their hand-picked committee will meet in secrecy for the next four months and then it will reveal its budget recommendations to the public in May. What’s next?
Will the names of those lucky citizens selected be kept from the public as well? Maybe. Will committee members be required to sign non-disclosure agreements? I suspect so. Will there be a secret handshake? Probably not, but they may want to consider that, too.
Let’s call this committee what it really is. It’s a shell created to provide political cover for those who don’t want to be accountable for making tough choices. Period.
If you thought there was a lack of trust in city hall before Measure CR, this latest decision only reinforces the message that was driven home by the No on CR campaign. We all look forward to hearing the committee’s recommendation in May.
Sheriff’s contract is the only good option
In a recent COURIER, Bob Gerecke expressed his preference for Claremont to maintain its own police department rather than to contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD).
I am sure most residents would prefer to save our police department if it is possible to do so. Regrettably, we can no longer afford to keep the same PD that has served our community so well for the past century; we can only hope to get by for a few more years with an overextended and demoralized department that lacks the resources necessary to do its job.
This is not a matter of speculation. In comparison to other similarly-sized police departments, Claremont is significantly underfunded. According to the Claremont Police Officers Association (CPOA), the department has already been effectively dismantled and is about to collapse.
The police force has been working without a contract for more than a year, and the CPOA has warned that up to 60 percent of the force may soon leave. Most significantly, the city cannot afford to even begin paying down our massive police pension liability.
Whether or not the CPOA’s dire assessment is completely accurate, there is no question that the situation is only going to get worse. The city doesn’t have the funds to address the department’s immediate or long-term problems, and Police Chief Shelly Vander Veen has already announced that she is evaluating ways to further reduce the department’s budget.
If the CPOA’s prediction of a mass exodus of officers comes to pass, Claremont may soon find itself with a crippled and dysfunctional police department.
By contrast, contracting with LASD would immediately reduce Claremont’s general fund expenditures by more than $4 million per year. These savings would allow the city to balance the budget, restore our depleted reserves, and meet our pension obligations—without raising taxes or cutting services.
Contract law enforcement is hardly a radical or untested option. Forty cities, including wealthy suburbs like La Cañada Flintridge, Calabasas and Rancho Palos Verdes, already contract with LASD. They pay millions of dollars less than we do, without compromising public safety.
This is one of the rare instances where there is an obvious and completely satisfactory solution to a serious problem. As Claremont officers would have the option to transfer to LASD and continue to serve our community, while the city puts millions of dollars into their underfunded pension plan, the CPOA itself should be demanding that we disband the police department and contract with LASD.
At the November 26 council meeting, City Manager Tara Schultz indicated that she is ready to pursue this option as soon as she receives direction from the city council. The council should immediately authorize her to do so.