Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'm all kinds of confused

On Tuesday night, the City Council voted 3-1 to let the towing contract go out to bid. I'm all for the bidding process, but apparently, the towers, Royal Coaches, were offering to put ADDITIONAL money in the city coffers -- an additional $120,000 annually.

Wait, let us rewind for second. The council gave Athens (trash) a very nice extension with no bids and it didn't have half the public support Royal Coaches did. Plus, Athens didn't offer $120,000 additional dollars to the city coffers, except it's just taking money from taxpayers and basically doing less work.

Can someone please tell me what the thinking was here? I'm all for being fair, but if the Royal Coaches contract is going out for bid, I argue EVERY SINGLE contract in the city (including Athens) should also go out for bid when their time is up.

Fair's fair.

Plus, I got some news that my girl, Shelley wasn't there Tuesday. She's missed a few meetings these past few months, which is not at all like her. I hope everything's OK with you, Mrs. Sanderson.

(Maybe, though, she's the only smart one in the bunch and is gearing up NOT to run in the 2009 election. I wouldn't sit on that council if you paid me.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Surrender to a higher power

Look, I'm no expert, but when your two biggest controversies as councilmember allegedly involve alcohol, it's time to surrender. It's time to get help.

I'm not referring to West Covina, by the way, but a neighbor, El Monte, and it's mayor Ernie Gutierrez. Earlier this year, residents charged that Mayor Gutierrez showed up to a city function drunk and the mayor was cursing incessantly while groping his mistress. He denies all charges, of course.

Now, it looks like booze got him in trouble again. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, and it looks like someone poured some beer on his head, or something like that.

1. We admitted we were powerless against alcohol, that our lives became unmanageable
When you know you have an important city function to attend to as mayor representing your city, and you still can't step away from the bottle, it's likely you have a problem. When your drinking has become a hot topic in the city you represent, all over the blogosphere, it's time to admit you need help.

2. Came to believe that power, greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
Don't think of that Power is God just now. More hiccups like this and it looks like the voters will be that Power, oust you from office, and from there you can pick up the pieces of your life.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him
That really isn't a bad idea

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

Well, it looks like you have to look at all of it, not just the drinking, but the mistress, the partying you most likely to at taxpayer-funded conventions and conferences. I hear those things are worse than an end-of-the-semester kegger at a frat house.

Oh, there's more. Exactly 8 more, but I don't want to give it all away now because that's a journey you'll have to take without the aid of the internets.

Go. Get help.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Congratulations, Mayor

Roger Hernandez is now the youngest mayor to serve the city of West Covina.

Congratulations.

Well, I am incredibly sorry I was unable to attend, but was my mailbox filled to the brim this morning.

Among some of the emails reads:

"You should have been there. I hate to admit how many of these things I've been to, and this is the first time I've ever seen such enthusiasm by the people in the audience."

"There was like, a standing ovation. People doing the Arsenio Hall 'woo, woo, woo' thing."

"The party after was awesome. You should have seen Herb Redholtz! If Steve Herfert knew his loyal minion was having such a blast at his sworn enemy's party, he'd pull him off the Planning Commission so fast his head would spin."

"It was a great, positive evening, and I only hope it's an indicator of what kind of leader we will have in City Hall."

"This appointment was a long-time coming, and I'm so glad Herfert the Hater wasn't there to ruin the moment."

Thanks, readers. It looks like I didn't have to write much of anything.

I will say this, though: I think, Mayor, you're going to do a great job. While the position is mostly ceremonial, it is also your responsibility to chair the meetings and to be fair. If I were in your position, I'd want to take revenge out on everybody. But from what I hear, your eloquent speech hinted that your leadership is going to be one of teamwork through a year of what is probably going to be very tough.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Don't F with Da Police!

It looks like taking a baton from a WCPD Officer will get you dead. As it should.

What are you, crazy? Probably. It's unfortunate, but it seems to me that the man killed at the Target near Big League Dreams was probably extremely mentally ill. When you're an officer on the beat, your first priority is to protect yourself and the people around you. You don't really have time to assess someone's mental capabilities, especially when you're being attacked.

With that being said, I strongly recommend people do what they can to help those with mental illnesses. People like Anthony Ayers, a classically trained musician who had to drop out of Julliard and sleep on the streets because the voices in his head wouldn't stop.

I'm also reminded of John Robert Graham, who lived on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles because he, too, couldn't come to terms with his mental illness. A person, or people, didn't see him as human, and lit him on fire. He burned to death.

I remember John from the days I used to take the bus EVERYWHERE, stopping at Mid-Wilshire to get something to eat. I saw him almost everyday, piercing blue eyes beaming through a jungle of a wild beard, dreadlocks and dirt. He never asked me for money, but I'd occasionally hand some over.

That's why I think it's important for people to recognize how devastating mental illness is, and to also find ways to help those suffering from it. I encourage everyone to go to the National Association of Mental Illness website and educate yourself on the diseases that could be a lot closer than you think.

Now....

Tonight's the night Mayor Pro Tem Hernandez is to be Mayor after being skipped over twice before 'cause he couldn't make nice with his colleagues and they made up some bullshit excuse to keep him from the gavel. Will they do it again tonight? I guess we'll see, though I doubt they will. I'm hearing from several readers that doing so would be a huge embarrassment to them because they gave him his WORD they wouldn't do it again. I'm on pins and needles. All I know is that if it does happen, I want to go to THAT party. Oughta be fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Haters gotta hate....

I know Jersey City is a long way away from West Covina, but I was absolutely shocked when I read about this.

In internets talk "OMFG" does not even come close to how I was feeling when I read about it. Apparently, I'm not the only one. The Ladies over at Leftovers also found it quite interesting.

I think my favorite part of this entire post is that Jennifer McLain states, "At least our council members don't do this," and someone else posted "Well, at least not literally." Later, there was an R. Kelly reference and I effing lost it.

See, it made me a little proud. Sometimes people just drink far too much Haterade in the morning and unleash on the internets, especially the Leftovers blog, and now on mine. That's fine with me. I welcome it. But I was starting to think the people of West Covina and the greater San Gabriel Valley area had lost their senses of humor. Good, witty humor, not just calling someone a fag and hoping it sticks.

So, I will definitely have some more posts about other bodily functions soon enough. Just keep tight. In the meantime, enjoy this video, and when you do, think of Steve Lipski:

Thursday, November 6, 2008

From the grassroots: Get Out the Truth!

America made a good choice when it chose President-Elect Barack Obama to lead them.

What was so impressive about Obama’s campaign is that is started on the ground. Five years ago, no one outside of Chicago knew the name “Barack Obama,” much less knew how to pronounce it. With his strong community-organizing skills and the wonders of the Internets, Barack Obama is a household name that will go down in history, and not just because he is this nation’s first black president, but because I strongly believe he will be the FDR of our time (minus the Japanese internment camps), and will take this country out of our Depression while giving millions of Americans hope.

Now, I bet you’re wondering why I’m bringing this up on a blog mostly devoted to West Covina politics. Well, I see a similar groundswell of a grassroots movement shaping up in our fair city. Will it hit the heights of our President-Elect? One could only hope.

This groundswell is shaping up on a side of the city that has historically been ignored: The Southside. Residents there tended not to pay attention to their local politics unless something piqued their interest, be it the BKK Landfill or the fate of Shadow Oak Park (which is almost done, by the way, you have to go see it if you haven’t.)

However, after the BKK Landfill thing got won by the residents in the ’90s, they went back to their own lives and continued to ignore their city politics, and basically voted people in because their names were familiar. After the Shadow Oak Park debacle, however, the residents didn’t stop there. This group, Concerned Citizens for a Better West Covina, is gaining steam, and not just on the south side.

According to some people who have been e-mailing me since I started this blog, about 100 people showed up at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night. While I was watching this historic election come to a close, they were there. The Concerned Citizens helped organize a push to overturn a decision by the council that would require residents who park on the streets overnight to pay for a permit.
While all the council members voted for it initially, the turnout at City Hall changed their minds.

This is the fourth case in which these Concerned Citizens showed us all that we can beat City Hall and our voice does matter. First, instead of condos, the lower portion of Shadow Oak Park is now an actual park. Secondly, despite a horrific blitz of negative mailers and dirty political tricks, Roger Hernandez was re-elected to the City Council. Third, a community full of beautiful single-family homes will remain so despite a push to build a two-story condo complex by the Faction of Four’s most generous donor, and now, we can park on the streets in our neighborhoods without paying a dime.

As one member of this awesome team wrote to me yesterday, “Last night showed that the residents can make a difference, they just need to make their views known. When the residents show up at Council meetings, send e-mails, and call, they have to listen.”

I think that Nov. 4 should also show us that Rovian politics are officially dead, so I call for the end of the reviled “hit pieces” that come to our mailboxes every election season. I call for the destruction of the fictional “West Covina Senior Citizens Taxpayers Association,” and I call for an end to half-witted, disgusting, waste-of-taxpayer money “investigations” and lame attempts to oust good people out of office.

OFF TO ANOTHER SUBJECT

Yes, I’m talking to you Christopher Chung. Answering questions at a council meeting IS YOUR JOB – calling it harassment is an embarrassment to this city, and an embarrassment to Community Development Commission directors everywhere. You said in your complaint that being “grilled,” or being asked simple questions, which is how I saw it, embarrassed you and would hurt your future employment prospects elsewhere. Well, how does it help your future employment prospects if you’re suing your employer for ASKING YOU QUESTIONS? Good luck with that, buddy. But I don't have to wish you luck, do I? It's already in the bag. You have the unwavering support of the City Attorney, and probably the council majority, to probably put the cash in your hand before you can be proven to be a big, fat liar in front of a judge or jury.

Now, why do I think Mr. Chung is lying? Several reasons.
A. He is an old friend of Arnold Alvarez-Glasman and that guy is probably the dirtiest City Attorney in the history of the world.

B. He filed the claim based on a report from an investigator who has a history of manipulating the truth to fit his clients' needs. For instance, the investigator -- Ed McErlain -- in 2004 investigated a former janitor at Pasadena City College who was fired after being injured. According to the school's award-winning newspaper, McErlain's "conclusion depends on selective use of the evidence."

C. He has no qualms giving gifts to council members, as is proven by their conflict-of-interest records.

D. This "claim" is filed over 2 years after the "incident," just a few weeks before Roger Hernandez is to be mayor, and TWO WEEKS after Steve Herfert, according to an e-mail to City Manager Andrew Pasmant and Police Chief Frank Wills, told Hernandez: "We're gonna come after your ass," "If not us, someone else will, " and "We are gonna sue your ass."

and finally,

E. Chris Chung's initial complaint was filed less than two months before Hernandez's re-election, even though the alleged incident occurred a year-and-a-half earlier.

I think any judge worth his salt will throw this case out, but how much you guys wanna bet it's gonna be "settled" before then?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Congratulations, America!






You made the right choice.

You chose hope over fear.

You chose civility over discourtesy.

You chose mind over matter.

You chose Barack Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A message from Shelley


To be perfectly honest, readers, I haven't logged on to the blog in a few days. When I posted my last message about voting, I noticed I had a message underneath my post about Shelley Sanderson, by Shelley Sanderson.

Obviously upset with the Tribune, she decided to post her letter here, and because I'm stoked that she did it here and you all know how much I like her (even though I constantly disagree with her) I'm going to post it again.

Take it away, Shelley:

(Written and submitted to the Tribune)
This letter is in response to an October 13, 2008 article, entitled, " Woman pleads to `disturbing' councilwoman". The article was unfortunately incomplete. My comments at that time had to be limited and perhaps misinterpreted. The caution and limitation was due to the fact there is additional and anticipated criminal/civil cases beyond the telephone stalking conviction against the individual who has been harassing me.

I have been advised that I can offer the following statement.

The individual that had been harassing me threatened me over the telephone calling nine times in one day and later posted a false defamatory video claiming it was me. This same individual has a prior Felony Conviction and that fact made me even more concerned for my family and our safety.

She wrongfully claimed that I was involved in this vile Internet posting. She was trying to defame my reputation as a City Council Member and further hurt my family. Her actions may bring additional charges. I do have a current restraining order against her.

I want to make it absolutely clear that I had nothing to do with the making of that video. The image shown was not me. In fact, I had no idea it existed until I was so informed by the Police Department.

I take this type of slanderous behavior very seriously and will do what it takes to seek justice.

Shelley Sanderson
West Covina City Council

VOTE!!!



Today's it. It's time to put on your rubber boots and head to the polls (if you haven't sent in your vote already)

I already did it myself and I every time I vote I feel like I accomplished something great that day, almost to the point where I can go home, sleep away the rest of the day and still feel accomplished.

But I won't.

GO VOTE!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You Won't Like Me When I'm Angry

I am absolutely sick to death of opening up the paper and reading things like this.

What year is it again? This is 2008, goddammit and I'm so bloody sick of people who want to act like the Civil Rights Movement never happened. It is not OK, not OK, not OK. It's vile. It's disgusting. And to think that I live so close to it makes me sick to my stomach!!

You watch footage of people coming out of McCain/Palin rallies calling Obama the N-word, "Terrorist," putting on Obama stickers on stuffed monkeys, and people around the country lose their goddamn minds!

This is sickening and I'm so tired of it.

I don't even know where to start or end, or what to say next. This whole thing has just depressed me. Here we are, on the precipice of history, and things like this occur.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I know it's not WeCo, but...


After hearing that Sarah Palins duds cost $150,000 (paid for not by her, but by unsuspecting Republicans hoping their money went into ads, mailers, strategists, etc.), I thought nothing the McCain-Palin camp would shock me. Then... I read this.

I'd be SO PISSED if I were a Republican. Since I'm not, I think it's effing HILARIOUS! What's even more hilarious is she wants us to think she's an all-around, gosh-darn-it, folksy, middle class hockey mom.

My wife is a middle class soccer mom and she buys her duds at H&M and Target, Macy's if she's feeling especially dangerous.

OMG!

Before I go into the diatribe about what the heck I found in my inbox, I'm just going to say I had a fantastic vacation -- family, foliage, football and Philly Cheeseteaks! Though it's nice to visit back East, I'm glad to be home. Man, those Phillies fans are outta control! I wore my LA Dodger cap and you'd think I was a serial rapist who targets deaf mutes!

Anyway... let's get on with it.

Shelley Sanderson in a sex tape?!?! WTF???? You know, I made it a point to leave alone the Internets when I want on vacation. Actually, it was my wife who kind of gave me this silly little ultimatum, "If you type in 'www' into anything on this vacation, I'm going to dress you up in Dodger Blue and handcuff you to the Broad Street Line." I will NEVER forgive her.

Seriously, my jaw couldn't hit the ground any harder. In case you missed it, or were too lazy to click on the above link, some woman named Charlynda Lamb was busted for "stalking" my girl, Shelley. Apparently, this Lamb woman posted a sex tape that purportedly shows Shelley doin' some naughty stuff and then making threatening phone calls to the councilwoman.

I'm going to play if it's true:

If it's true ... Why would anyone with political aspirations be so stupid?
If it's true ... Why would anyone with four kids, some of whom are probably old enough to use the Internets, be so stupid?
If it's true ... Why did I find out about this AFTER it was taken DOWN from the Internets???
If it's true ... All she needs is a DUI arrest and we have our own little celebrity!

Good god! Now, according to the story, the police say it was not Mrs. Sanderson on the tape, even though Mrs. Sanderson didn't really deny it herself.

Now, because I don't know if it's her or not, I'm just going to go ahead and assume it's not. Still, why would this Charlynda Lamb be stalking Mrs. Sanderson? The woman doesn't even live near West Covina, even though Mrs. Sanderson recalls meeting her -- though she doesn't know where or when, which I find a little odd. If someone was threatening me, I'd wrack my brain trying to figure it out so I can start connecting some dots. But that's just me.

And seriously, google this woman's name and you'll see she calls herself a "model."


OK, then. I had myself, sent Ms. Lamb an email, hoping to get a clue as to "Why?" If she writes back, I'll be sure to let you know about it. And, if you happen to know where this tape is, please let me know so I could settle this nonsense ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Thanks, readers. It's so good to be back.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Vacay!




Hey, Watcher Readers!

I'm going on vacation for two bliss-filled weeks starting at 5 p.m. today.

Along with shutting off the cell, I promised myself not to look at any screens-- TV, computer, Blackberry, etc. so please hold off on your emails, and don't get offended if I don't reply in a timely manner. I'm outta here!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If you ain't got da scratch....

Poor Anthony and Theresa Byrne.

In case you don't know, the Byrnes are a West Covina couple with a family, much like a lot of us here in this fair city. They had spent thousands on their quaint Crumley Street home by converting their garage into a bedroom.

Now, I know what you single-family home purists are thinking: That is illegal! Well, it's against city ordinance, and that's why they sought a variance from our illustrious City Council.

But I think what should be said here is that this bedroom is definitely not one of those mattress-on-the-ground, light bulb-hanging-from-the-roof, milk-crate-as-a-table places. This job was done up rather nicely. And no, the Byrnes aren't looking to rent the place out -- they stay there themselves as it is their master bedroom. They built a closet, a bathroom, the works!

Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for the council, which voted 3-0-2 to strike down the Byrnes' appeal. And I got to thinking, "Why?" when I heard the news from a few of my readers.

I think I can tell you why: The Byrnes' probably haven't spent a dime in the 3's campaigns, unlike OTHERS who ask for variances and get them.

So, the Byrnes wanted ONE variance, right?

Back in May of 2007, the City Council was more than happy to not only approve a far more severe variance, but also an entire ZONE CHANGE for a 20-unit, 2-story condo complex to be built smack dab in the middle of some of West Covina's "beautiful homes."

So, the Council thinks it's OK to completely change the character of an entire neighborhood, but there's something fundamentally wrong about some regular Joe who wants to sleep in his pimped out garage? How does that make any kind of sense? (For the record, my girl, Shelley, and Roger were the two who abstained from the Byrne vote. They probably wanted to allow the variance, but didn't want to go on record as someone who 'ignores' city ordinances; also, Roger was the lone dissenting vote in the approval of the condos)

I'll tell you how: Bill McIntyre wanted to build those condos and he has poured thousands and thousands of dollars into the campaigns of those who approved the project, well except Councilman Mike "The Recuser" Touhey, who had to recuse himself from that vote because he is basically an employee of Good Ol' Bill's.

The Byrnes? I'd be surprised if they gave 50 bucks to any of those politicians for their campaigns.

Next up on "Pissing on the Little Guy: The West Covina Edition" Cell phone towers. About 3 or 4 parks have cell towers. Shadow Oak Park is the only one with two, and last night, a third carrier was added to that mix. Coincidentally (or not), the Shadow Oak Park issue is what united a bunch of residents who -- before they heard a portion of their park was likely to be sold to condo developers -- weren't even paying attention. They united, formed a group, and, somehow, helped to unite some homeowners who fought against that 20-unit condo project and beat it.

Payback, maybe? I'm just speculating. I may be "green behind the ears," but I know how to add, and the sum on this equation doesn't smell too good. (I love mixing metaphors in the morning)

What are your thoughts?

Friday, October 3, 2008

When "Investigation" Goes Nowhere

I find it interesting that people put so much stock into "investigations," particularly when it comes to their local elected officials.

This comes to mind after reading about Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano being "investigated" by the Fair Political Practices Commission, and Baldwin Park Councilman Anthony Bejarano being "investigated" for being drunk in public.

Well, the term "investigation" makes some sexy headlines, as well as remarkable hit-piece fodder. You could just pick and choose those headlines, stick them on a mailer, and there you have it: The perfect mail strike.

People who put together hit pieces generally are reliant on the fact that you won't bother to get your lazy ass up from the latest episode of "Flavor of Love" to check the facts on that mailer and take it as gospel. That's what I ALMOST did last November when I was going to stupidly cast my vote for Steve Herfert and some blonde broad who thought having a firefighter husband made her an expert on public safety. (By that logic I'm an expert on coral bleaching results when the symbiotic zooxanthellae are released from the original host coral organism due to stress. Hi, Honey!)

I've shared the story before.

What I'm getting at is this: It's not hard to get anyone "investigated." All you gotta do is file a complaint against the person you want investigated. The end. The investigation could last two hours or two years. It is far too easy.

In Bejarano's case, the DA found he did nothing wrong, but is that going to stop his political adversaries from using this highly suspect arrest on future mailers? Absolutely not.

The moral of the story: Do your own research. Don't believe hit pieces. It really doesn't take that long; I'm sure "Flavor of Love," "Rock of Love," "I Love New York," "Real Chance at Love" will re-run the episode.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

It was great Moe-ing you





Well, like all great things, it looks like the Saga of Moe the Chimp has most likely come to a sad, sad end.

According to chimp experts, it is unlikely Moe, of West Covina, survived the three months he's been in the wild.

To think of all that chimp has done for our fair city. He likely caused our city attorney to lose his post in neighboring Baldwin Park after he pushed to keep Moe there after he was kicked out of here; he allegedly mauled the hand of one of our officers; he turned Vincent Avenue into a circus when his mauled owner, St. James Davis, came home from the hospital; his presence pushed our council to make it illegal to have exotic animals; he pushed our then-assemblyman, Ed Chavez, to pen a bill with a similar theme; and he gave something for the Tribune to write about almost every month for years and years.

I defy you to find a West Covina official, dead or alive, who has gotten more press coverage. I think Moe may have even beaten out former resident and admitted drug user Jason Giambi for that title. Cory Lidle crashed his plane into a building and still got less ink.

So, raise your glass up to Moe. He made me like every chimp I see, from Chimp-An-A to Chimp-An-Zee.

Salud!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Another Day in Blog City

If I were a Baldwin Park resident, I'd be writing about Councilman Anthony Bejarano's recent arrest for public intoxication.

But I don't, so I won't. But I do have an opinion: Do people even get arrested for that anymore? I've been publicly intoxicated more times than I can count and I've never been arrested for it.

Instead, I'm forced to blog about the City of West Covina's councilmembers fund raising efforts. Booooooo-ring.

"Why, Watcher, is it boring?" you may ask. "Isn't this your bread and butter?"

Well, yes it is, but to tell you the truth: This writing has been on the wall for over TWO YEARS and no one's done nothing. Yes, Bill McIntyre, his family and businesses are clients of Councilman Mike Touhey, and yes, McIntyre happily enjoys that position. He has gotten variance after variance for his projects, and in return, he piles on the cash to those who support those variances, which, I'm sure, make Mr. McIntyre a very rich man.

Oh, and there's Athens, which received an above-Consumer Price Index raise from the city, which is retroactive, and piled more and more money into those campaigns as well.

It's all very boring because it's been happening for ages, but when people turn on their faucet and water comes out, when a pothole is quickly filled, when the police and fire department come when called, most people could care less about back room deals and questionable contributions.

People in this country are apathetic and that's why we are facing the worst financial crisis in ages, because people don't pay a-fucking-ttention. If they did, they would have seen this crisis a mile away, but people at the wheel were blinded by dollar signs when things were good, and they were happy to feast on your apathy.

Now things are bad and people want heads to roll. You know what? You deserve it! Your heads were in the sand, you voted for George Bush because you wanted to have a beer with him.

And the same losers who support the whole Touhey Town philosophy are paying for it now and still don't see it! You know how much Big League Dreams is costing taxpayers annually? $1.3 million fucking dollars!!! And why, again, did we have to take a firefighter off a truck? I'm sure he/she makes less than that.

But no, your heads were in the sand and you were distracted by the shiny bobbles on top of BKK. You deserve it!

Your trash bill is higher than it has to be. But, oh well, keep your head in the sand.

People accuse me of being a Roger Hernandez supporter. I am. I am because his philosophy is the same as mine and his voting record proves it. He has consistently voted against projects I don't believe in, and for projects I do. To hide that record, his adversaries sit awake at night, twisting their mustaches and find new ways to sully his name to distract the REAL issues at hand. But guess what? I'm pretty sure the DA's office is getting sick and tired of being the go-to guy in these petty little disagreements.

The End.

Now... can anyone tell me what a D.B. is?

Friday, September 19, 2008

This explains SO MUCH!

Check our this interesting article in the Los Angeles Times:

Are you a born conservative (or liberal)
Die-hard liberals and conservatives aren't made; they're born. It's literally in their DNA.

That's the implication of a study by a group of researchers who wanted to see if there was a biological basis for people's political attitudes.

They found to their surprise that opinions on such contentious subjects as gun control, pacifism and capital punishment are strongly associated with physiological traits that are probably present at birth.

The key is the differing levels of fear that people naturally feel.

"What is revolutionary about this paper is that it shows the path from genes to physiology to behavior," said James H. Fowler, a political science professor at UC San Diego who was not involved in the research.

The researchers, whose findings were published today in the journal Science, looked at 46 people who fell into two camps -- liberals who supported foreign aid, immigration, pacifism and gun control; and conservatives who advocated defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq war.

In an initial experiment, subjects were shown a series of images that included a bloody face, maggots in a wound and a spider on a frightened face. A device measured the electrical conductance of their skin, a physiological reaction that indicates fear.

In a second experiment, researchers measured eye blinks -- another indicator of fear -- as subjects responded to sudden blasts of noise.

People with strongly conservative views were three times more fearful than staunch liberals after the effects of gender, age, income and education were factored out.

Kevin B. Smith, a political science professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a study author, said conservatives were more vigilant to environmental threats, and he speculated that this innate tendency led them to support policies that protect the social order.

Fowler said the study added to the growing research suggesting that over millions of years, humans have developed two cognitive styles -- conservative and liberal. Cautious conservatives prevented societies from taking undue risks, while more flexible liberals fostered cooperation.

"For the species to survive, you need both," he said.

But Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University, said it was impossible to draw any conclusions from a study with so few people, all from a small Midwestern town. What's more, he said, it's just too squishy interpreting people's reactions.

"I don't believe any of this," he said. "The people who are most scared are less in favor of gun control. Why wouldn't they be more in favor? Because they need guns to fight the bad guys? You can make up a story in either direction."

The study is the latest to challenge the long-standing dogma that upbringing and environmental factors determine political attitudes. Recent studies have found that identical twins -- who share the same genetic inheritance -- think alike on political issues more often than other siblings.

Last year, researchers reported that the brains of conservatives and liberals process information differently.

None of this, however, suggests that people are slaves to their biology, researchers agree.

The latest study "does not mean that people can't sit down and think about the issues and come to some logical compromise," Smith said. "What it does mean is that it is going to be hard work."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Now I Have a Sweet Taste

I was annoyed earlier, but I got this e-mail from Dana Sykes, a community activist and wife to Human Resources Commissioner Fred Sykes:

I thought what Mayor Pro-tem Hernandez did was a nice pat on the back to the police and fire personnel and as well as a pat on the back for Touhey. When Bill was stricken ... Hernandez immediately called for emergency personnel and Touhey asked people to leave to
allow the emergency team to work. Roger stayed with Bill the whole time up to when they put him in the ambulance. Then he went to the hospital to check on him.

Personally
he did not have to include me in the posting, all I did was get the
number to notify the family. I have known the Schafers for a little over a year and know both Bill and his wife Izzy. They both are interested in what is happening in the city and are concerned about how our leaders are running it. They have a great family and I knew that they would want to be with Bill.

The entire City staff was wonderful through the entire emergency and
sent a car over to pick up Izzy and take her to the hospital. As Roger Hernandez stated, the City came together and helped when it was needed.

Now...that's class.

Queen of Class

Yesterday, Mayor Pro Tem Roger Hernandez sent to the Leftover Ladies a note in which he thanked an array of people for helping a man who had a heart attack in the chambers on Tuesday night.

Today, some woman named Cookie Nance had this to say: Lets all not forget that Mayor Sherri Lane was instumental in getting those defibulators put in city hall. Lets also mention that Frank Wills is the one who took the defibulator out, and there is no mention of this, I personally watched Frank Wills rush over to the defibulator and bring it into the council chambers.

First of all, I'm going to ignore the fact this woman doesn't know how to spell. Secondly, WTF?! Hernandez didn't have to do anything. He could have just let it be. He didn't have to thank anyone if he didn't want to, but he obviously felt compelled to do so. He's obviously friends with the victim of this heart attack, and may have been just a little traumatized considering his recent loss and did not remember every single detail that played out in that room.

But, of course, someone had to put a political spin on it because I'm guessing this woman has attended the Steve Herfert School of Pettiness and un-Classy Remarks: The Internet Edition. I bet if she saw Roger Hernandez walk on water she'd say, "See! I told you he couldn't swim!" (that's not mine, I stole it from someone else who was talking about Barack Obama)

That's all I'm gonna say about that. I just have a bad taste in my mouth after reading that post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Get Well Soon

According to the ladies at Leftovers, someone had a heart attack inside the West Covina Council Chambers. His life was saved by quick thinkers and the quasi-new portable defibrillator. Here is what Mayor Pro Tem Roger Hernandez had to say:

It is with immense gratitude and enormous pride that I thank the City of West Covina's Fire and Police personnel, who saved the life of my friend, Bill Schafer, at City Hall at last night's City Council meeting.

After speaking at the podium, Bill had what looked to be a heart attack in his seat. Without even a thought several community members, including Planning Commissioner Cesar Cervantes and Human Resources Commissioner Fred Sykes rushed to his aid. Fire Chief Paul Segalla administered CPR and used one of the City's portable defibrillators to help save him. Within three minutes, the city's paramedics arrived and took Bill to the hospital, where he is now recovering.

I'd also like to commend Dana Sykes for calling Bill's wife to ask for his medical history, and my colleague, Councilman Mike Touhey, for helping to arrange his wife's arrival to the hospital.

When I got to the hospital last night, Bill's wife, Izzy, said doctors told her the efforts of the Fire and Police departments, as well as those of the community members, had saved Bill's life.

I have always boasted that we have the best public safety personnel in the San Gabriel Valley, and last night proved it. There is no greater joy I have than knowing that when there is a crisis, we can come together, put our differences aside, and focus on what really matters: The lives and well-being of the people who make up this special city.

I'd like to wish my friend a speedy recovery and I pray that he and his wonderful family stay strong through this tough time.

It is the Watcher's understanding that this is the third time someone had had a heart attack inside the West Covina Council Chambers, in memory, at least. In 1992, a 69-year-old woman had a heart attack after complaining about Athens; and the other was just a couple years ago when a man was appealing to the Planning Commission regarding his home.

Also, I also heard from a faithful reader that meeting staple and Senior Citizens Commissioner Royall Brown (Aroma Drive) suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized last week.

These incidents beg the question: Is City Hall hazardous to your health? My intention is definitely not to make light of these horrible events. I am posing a question that I think will make everyone else think. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you so involved in the City Hall process you are practically drowning in it? Are you a staffer -- or a councilmember -- who sometimes feels so overwhelmed by your work you feel it physically?

I guess what I'm trying to get to is that in the grand scheme of things, whatever is happening at City Hall should not affect your health. Always question and be watchful, but be aware of what you are giving up to put these people under a microscope. My hobby is looking at these people under a microscope, but my outlet is this blog. What's your outlet?

Readers, gadflies, City Staff, City Council: What's your outlet? How do you take care of yourself amid the stress? That is the question I pose to you, and I hope to have a nice, healthy discussion sharing ideas and suggestions.

Thanks!

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain's LIES!!!







You win; this isn't exactly a West Covina post but I feel I have a duty. I got an e-mail from a reader who said, "You must be a liberal because you have a sense of humor." Thanks, Reader. I am a total liberal, but I don't want to alienate my conservative friends. If it's one thing I have learned is that there is common ground among us all, especially in local politics. The seats are non-partisan for a reason; the challenges and issues we face on a local level cannot be divided into Liberal Issues and Conservative Issues. Our city leaders take action that sometimes go against their political ideologies: For instance, four Republicans on our City Council voted to pass a bond that will cost more than $50 million to build a ballpark (not a typical Reep move), while a Democrat pushed to cut even MORE spending than the council already had (not a typical Dem move).

But whatever your opinion, register to VOTE! And do it!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Why Not Sherri Lane?


It's not every day the Watcher allows national politics take center stage on Watching West Covina. I figure there's enough on the Internets, on TVs, mags and papers to do that. But I found a way to marry both national and local politics, thanks to Sen. John McCain. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't know how to do it. He did this by picking an inexperienced unknown woman as his running mate. So, if he's going to go the way of picking a woman whose been governor of a state with half the population of San Diego for less than two years, and the only office before that she held was mayor of a city with 9,000 people in it, then why didn't McCain pick our very own Mayor Sherri Lane?

  • Lane already has Palin beat! She's been on the City Council for more than two years and West Covina has -- as of 2006 -- about 107,000.
  • Lane doesn't have any kids to screw things up for her, like Palin's knocked-up, booze-lovin' 17-year-old hot mess of a daughter.
  • Lane has over two years' experience doing whatever her colleagues tell her to; she never falls out of line.
  • Think of how FUN the Senate meetings will be? She'll choose one senator to pick on all the time for speaking out of turn -- even when he/she doesn't-- while she lets all the others wail on him or her, regardless of relevance to the issue.
  • If McCain dies while in office (which is more likely than not considering he'll be closing in on 80 after his first term), Nancy Pelosi will be the nation's first female president, since Lane will probably run down the Beltway faster than a Jamaican sprinter.
By the way, do you think John McCain picked a female running mate to make his own history, or to make up for the fact he called his wife the 'C' word in front of a bunch of reporters who didn't report it? (if you don't know what the 'C' word is, it rhymes with 'hunt,' 'bunt,' and 'stunt.')



Remember how I said I like ironic humor? Here's one: that clip above is from a comedy troupe I heard of while watching Fox News. As soon as they started to make fun of McCain, they were cut off. Hilarious!

Does anyone have any other reasons why Mayor Sherri Lane will be a better VP than Sarah Palin?

For more Republican hypocrisy, check out the video below.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Remember when "Athens" wasn't garbage?

Seeing that we just celebrated the most-watched Olympic games in history, I think it appropriate to post about Athens considering it was the site of the first Olympiad in modern times.

I find it interesting, however, that what once was the epitome of greatness and strength has been reduced to trash -- quite literally.

Athens is the infamous garbage hauler of probably most cities in the San Gabriel Valley, and they pay handsomely to be just that. I wouldn't be surprised if they had an entire staff devoted to finding out who's running for what and greasing their wheels like crazy.

Recently, in the city of Montebello, three council members thought it best to give Athens an "evergreen" contract to do all trash-hauling duties. In case you don't know, evergreen means for the next 15 years, even if a hauler comes in saying they'll pick up trash twice every day at five bucks a year, Montebello is bound to Athens and no one can compete for the city's contract.

Sounds like it lacks common sense, doesn't it? It seems the Montebello City Council thought so, too, so they decided to skip on the last meeting and for the first time in 20 years, there was no meeting due to lack of quorum. Well, I have a story that may not be as juicy, but another example of how Athens always gets what it wants from our elected officials.

Athens is the garbage hauler in West Covina and a couple years ago, our esteemed elected officials voted on the MOST curious contract with Athens. Not only did they allow an increase for fuel costs, it was retroactive. Now, Councilman Herfert had a problem with that and stated half the retroactive cost would be "absorbed" by the city, and not the residents. I have a question: don't the residents' taxes make up the city's piggy bank?

Even against city staff's recommendation, the council voted 3-1 to allow the retroactive fuel increase, along with the CPI index increase.

Honestly, though, there was so much double talk going on at that meeting that I was still able to see on TV........ that it's just a little complicated, which is where I find a red flag.

Nothing in this world EVER has to be as complicated as some make it out to be, which is probably why E! cancelled Denise Richards' reality show. It's been my experience when people try to dilute things, they don't want you to see what's staring you in the face. Sure, there are exceptions, and most of those exceptions have nothing to do with dollars and cents. When it comes to taxpayer money, though, all we're talking about is dollars and cents.

The West Covina news is old, but it's just another example of how it seems our elected officials are so devoted to Athens. I dare any elected body to turn its back on Athens, just to see what happens next.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Over the Edge? Me?

According to a person with the sophisticated handle called "I love West Covina" over on the Leftovers blog, I have gone "over the edge" and he/she is concerned about the council's "safety."

Never have I threatened anyone on this space or on the Leftovers space. I said I thought Councilwoman Shelley Sanderson was a pretty woman. Good God forgive me for stating the obvious. And since these people also have absolutely NO sense of humor ("I love West Covina," "Average Joe" and "The Commish"), I guess I have to explain a couple things:

I'm a happily married man. MAN. What man -- besides those of the homosexual persuasion (not that there's anything wrong with that) -- doesn't look at pretty ladies?

Secondly, I like ironic humor. Irony= an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected. Since I fundamentally always disagree with her on every single vote she seems to cast, I think it's funny I find her attractive.

Thirdly, I like all the attention, so the more you give it, the more I post. If your goal is to wipe me off the face of the World Wide Web, you sure are doing a LOUSY job.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dear Average Joe...

Since my post yesterday, I've been receiving lots of emails from readers really upset about the City Council's decision to pull the plug on televised meetings. All alternatives offered to them were virtually ignored, including a very smart one to have volunteers work the booths. If the city can have volunteers directing traffic and giving parking tickets, getting some to push a couple buttons twice a month shouldn't be so hard.

I also got an email from a friend to read the Leftovers blog and a response to what I had posted by someone named Average Joe.

Average Joe said:

"West Covina Watcher also has some of the info but gives out always misinformation. Mt. Sac chargers the city according to the staff report Appox. $60,000.00 a year plus annual cost of living adjustments for there services to broadcast the meeting only they do not film the meeting or produce it. So that leaves $120,000.00 a year for the 2 Prod Asst. that are city employees one at 42,900.00 Salary plus benefits of $17,754.00 thats health, dental, optical and retirement. The second Prod Asst. $42,268.00 Salary plus benefits of $18,193.00 thats health, dental, optical and retirement. That totals the $180,000.00 Appox. for the cable broadcast. West Covina Watcher I thought you state in your bio that you work for a college what is your salary and benefit the taxpayer pays for you. When government tells you there cost in this case they were telling you both salary and benefits. You took that total and acted like they each make $90,000.00 a year! Come on West Covina Watcher the facts just the facts!"


I don't know who Average Joe is, but he's not really great with the reading and comprehension. I don't work for a college, in fact I'm an HR director for a medium-sized private business, but whatever. I did mention once that my wife works at a university as a researcher/instructor. A private university, so I don't know if the taxpayer pays her salary either.

Also, I don't think Average Joe quite grasps the concept of punctuation. If he had read more closely, he would have seen that I asked if the two guys made $90 Gs a year, hence the question mark. See what happens when emotional people post? That's why you never should blog angry-- you blog smugly. Like me :-)

Oh, and thank you to someone called The Commish, who told me:

"Shelley Sanderson was wearing an orange blazer and you're a perv. Plus, why didn't you mention the real news of the night? The council approved the overhaul of Orangewood Park for soccer fields. We don't have the money, but I'm sure we'll find a way."

Yeah, wishful thinking, Commish. Keep on dreamin'.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Off the air




I'd like to first thank all of the loyal readers who wrote me with what occurred at the West Covina City Council meeting last night.

As I understand it, the conversation went quite a while but, as suspected, the Foursome said budget constraints are keeping them from bringing back the broadcasts, even though the odd man out suggested a slew of other trimming options, including lofty contracts with lobbyists and some marketing firm. Why is there a marketing firm when the city has a Public Information Officer? Why, Lord, must common sense flee from our elected leaders in such large numbers?

My favorite email came from reader who I only know as "True Patriot":

"As suspected, the four -- especially Mike Touhey -- played the Public Safety card all goddamn night. He must be a Republican, but instead of using the word "terrorist" to justify his actions, he uses the word "public safety." If we bring cable back we'll have to fire all our officers and kill your puppies. Even though his more thoughtful colleague found ways to cut, they still didn't go for it. He also said something like, 'If you have a heart attack, you won't be looking at cable TV,' which I thought was in extremely poor taste considering his colleague had just lost his father to a heart attack."

Another reader who calls him or herself SWV said:

"Oh that Touhey and his crocodile tears! He was "offended" that Hernandez suggested cutting the public info officer position. He was all choked up. He must be friends with that person or something. I mean, $100 grand they spend on him or her AND they contract with another marketing firm? Yeah... that makes sense."

Apparently the man of the hour was a resident named John Solis who suggested the city look into a grant he had found on the Internets. Shouldn't that be the first thing City Staff look into? How come the council didn't take into consideration other options that were apparently mentioned at the meeting. One reader told me someone suggested volunteers. The equipment's already there!

Hey, whatever happened to just taping the damn thing yourself and posting it on the Internet? Any idiot with a camera phone and a connection can do that. In fact, I employ you, readers, to tape the meetings, send me the digital file and I'll post it right here on this very blog. How much money is that gonna cost? A helluva lot less than the alleged $150-180 thousand.

Although my readers really came through for me today, I'm just a tad disappointed. What was Shelley Sanderson wearing? No one bothered to tell me. I heard that she wouldn't mind doing away with the Herfert Herald, aka Discover West Covina.

Oh, Mrs. Sanderson. I know she probably doesn't like me very much because I constantly disagree with her, but you know how when a hot chick hates you it makes her even hotter? Well, if you're a guy you'd understand...

That's all for today, dear friends. Please...give me your input.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tonight's the Night




Dear Watcher Readers,

Tonight is the night I urge you to go to City Hall if you disagree with the Council's decision to cease broadcasting of the City Council Meetings. People have been signing petitions, talking to each other and writing letters to the editor in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. In fact, the paper's editorial board came on the side of the people and is urging the Council members to rethink their decision.

You know what I like about the Council, especially Councilman Mike Touhey, they always find a way to stick to a bad decision even if there's outrageous support against it. Not only that, whenever their reasoning to make these bad decisions is proved to be wrong or rectified, they find ANOTHER excuse.

This is one of my favorites: Mayor Pro Tem Roger Hernandez told the Tribune that there is a lot of fat in the budget that can be trimmed, such as an apparent do-nothing lobbyist, an alleged do-nothing public information officer, and -- of course-- the Herfert Herald, aka Discover West Covina.

Upon hearing that fat can be trimmed elsewhere, Touhey came out and argued only 33 percent of West Covina residents have cable access. Where was this argument before, when HE was Mayor, and HE had the "Mayor Show?" Now that his arch rival is set to be Mayor pretty soon, it's an issue? Oh brother, will the pissing contest between these two egomaniacs ever end?

The Watcher would love to be there, but I have to stay at home with the kiddies. Please let me know what happens, faithful readers.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Could it be?????

Did someone at City Hall actually LISTEN to the people?

As you all know, there have been several complaints regarding the cancellation of the City Council meetings on Charter Channel 55. Allegedly due to budget cuts, the 20-some-odd year broadcast is all of a sudden "too expensive" to operate. Personally, I believe the $180,000 cost projected by City Staff is a bit inflated, but that's just my opinion.

It looks like the City Council will get a chance on Tuesday to rethink their stance. On the agenda, the item is coming back on the Tuesday, Aug. 19 meeting.

Maybe then, by the grace of God, the City Council can think of innovative ways to make the cuts WITHOUT taking away the meetings. All you really need is an open mind.

1. Cut down on Discover West Covina! I know its going from monthly to quarterly, but there are other ways to trim, like hmm, I don't know -- only sending it to people who want it! Like, 35,000 of those things go out, but how many of those 35,000 households actually read it? Make receiving it optional. I know what you're thinking, Mr. Herfert, "How will I ever let people know about BLD?...Again and again and again and again?" Well, you're just gonna have to trust somewhere in that $1.3 million we're paying for BLD each year, there's some cash set aside for marketing... Which brings me to item ...

2. Public Information Officer. From what I understand, a Public Information Officer is like the city's spokesperson to the media. I read the paper religiously and I can't remember a time when West Covina's Public Information Officer was quoted. This person could be writing and designing the newsletter, BUT if you look at the newsletter now, and a newsletter from a couple years ago (before the Public Information Officer was hired), you don't really see a difference in design or writing style. I wonder, is the person writing and designing the newsletter now the same person doing it then? If so, why are we wasting money on a Public Information Officer?

OK, if you guys don't want to lay anyone off, even if they've only been around a short time and don't really do anything (seriously, if you are or know the PIO, please let me know what she does and I'll issue a Watcher-style apology), here's another: Broadcast the City Council meetings only. Stop with all the other things, like the Mayor Show, the Planning Commission Meetings, the events, etc.

I'm definitely not being a hater. I do enjoy those things, especially since I -- born in Dodger Blue -- got to see and hear a speech from the great Maury Wills on Channel 55. But to me, those things can wait til things look a bit brighter, fiscally.

Also, on the Leftovers blog, someone suggested having volunteers work the cameras. What a novel concept! Volunteers!!

Maybe the many people expected to go to Tuesday's meeting will have some other ideas. I got an e-mail from a person called only "KWG" and it reads:

"I am not happy with the city turning off the cable broadcast of its meetings.
I would like to encourage everyone to attend the next meeting and voice our displeasure.
Any suggestions on getting the word out?
I have even considered putting this in the Tribune by buying a quarter page or more.
Please let me know your feelings.
I am in no way associated with the city other than being a resident."

I suggested to KWG he write a letter to the editor to the Tribune. Apparently, this cause of getting the meetings back on the air caught its attention. The editorial board agrees: Broadcasting the meetings yields and open government. While other, smaller, cities are broadcasting -- or looking to do it -- the "Hub of the San Gabriel Valley" is shutting it down. That makes no damn sense.

Godspeed, KWG! You have to tell me what happens, considering I won't be able to see it on TV.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mom n Pop vs. Chains

The greatest thing, I think, about living in West Covina is the variety of restaurants. I love that I would have to kind of drive out of the way to a fast food joint and I have a cornucopia of choices that are either Mom n Pops, or chains.

I decided to take a break today from giving the City Council a literary brow beating and focus on my readers, to try to get them involved in something they can all agree on: FOOD!

So, I'll start with listing my favorite Mom n Pop eatery, followed by my favorite chain:

1. The Chicken Box on Glendora Avenue. Basically, if you slathered a volleyball in good barbecue sauce, I'll probably eat it. Don't get me wrong, though, the chicken is superb! In fact, any dead animal on my plate will brighten the Watcher's mood even in the bleakest of times. Isn't that why we eat so much after funerals?

2. BJs Brewery. I also love a good beer and the spicy avocado rolls were made by the Gods. Oh, but don't forget about their pizza, its soft crust and melty cheese. Oh, and the Pazookie. Whoever thought of that is obviously a stoner, I'm just glad he/she remembered to make some for the rest of us.

Now, it's your turn. Don't be shy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Did You Feel It?

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the Southland today and centered in Chino Hills, just a stone's throw from West Covina. Luckily for me, I work in Cerritos so it wasn't so bad. Not so lucky for the house though. The wife found a photo of Pops broken on the floor, along with a few knick knacks.

Hope all your houses are in tact and you are all safe.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I Feel Like Perez Hilton!

Hey, Watcher readers. In case you missed it, a fine, classy person who uses the handle "Edgewood Insider" gave me my very first Hate Mail! I'm so proud I could piss. The aforementioned Insider states:

"talk about no balls. what's your name? MR. HYPOCRISY! at least shelley uses her real name.should i call you gen. wild bill donovan ( master of spy's [sic]) or bob's big boy. that's right bit** you have been called out. So go ahead take your F***ing comments and stick um up your F***ing As* P.S.BLD Rules"

With the last bit there, I could deduct the writer in question is a 13-year-old angst-ridden boy. Remember when you were that age and you wrote all over your Pee Chee folder: "Metallica Rules!"? Well, some of you may be a bit older or younger than me, but I came of age in the era of Beavis and Butthead, and well, the Insider's rant takes me back to that simpler time. Thanks, friend.

Also, I'd like to address once again why I don't reveal my true identity. Does Batman? Spider-man? Superman? No. They don't, mostly to protect themselves. I'm doing the same. The people in power in West Covina wield a lot of it and frankly, I don't want my family getting harassed or anything simply because the people in power don't like what I say.

I realize I'm comparing myself to comic book heroes, but give me a break. I just saw Dark Knight for the third time.

Friday, July 25, 2008

BIG LEAGUE F***ING DREAMS!

What did I say?

Got home last night and guess what was in the mail? That's right: Discover West Covina.

And what was on the cover? Yup: Big League Dreams.

Before anyone starts telling me, "Big League Dreams isn't the only thing on the cover, wha, wha, wha." 'Tis true. In the last year, BLD graced the cover of Discover West Covina four times-- That's about 33%.

However, there is not ONE single subject that gets more press in the newsletter than BLD. What about the new soccer fields? Didn't that deserve the star treatment this month?

The planning and community service commissions voted to redo Orangewood Park to include soccer fields for almost 2,000 youth soccer league players. In case you didn't know it, the league, which has been around for a gazillion years, never had a bona fide soccer field on which to play. NEVER. I think that is more interesting than BLD and its "success."

Look, I'm sure a lot of people use it. I'm not doubting that, but we're spending like $1.3 million a year on that damn thing, and in the meantime, we're making cuts to public safety and across the board.

While Discover West Covina tells us how many people go to BLD, how much money its making for the city is conspicuously missing.

Before I get accused of drinking too much Haterade, I do have plans to make Discover West Covina cheaper, if the city continues to insist on publishing it.

1. It doesn't need to be glossy. In fact, why isn't it on recycled paper? I looked for the little recycling symbol and it wasn't there. Yes, I know recycled paper can come in glossy, but I don't think the newsletter is one of those.

2. Make it online only! The Community Recreation Guide in online only now.

3. Take a survey: How many people will be torn up inside if they don't get it monthly or quarterly? Maybe those who really want it can subscribe to it, and those of us who end up just tossing it won't be getting it in the mail. I'm sure the postage costs will decrease significantly.

Those are my ideas. Since Councilwoman Shelley Sanderson is now a Watcher reader, maybe she can take those ideas to her colleagues. The rest of the council can be readers, too, but she's the only one with the cojones to post, even if she disagrees with me. I like her spunk. And her sense of humor.

Don't think the Watcher's getting soft, but you can't deny her cuteness :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Big Boy's Back

Looks like Councilman Mike Touhey won't be the biggest guy in West Covina for much longer.

According to this, there's gonna be a new Bob's Big Boy in town.

(Warning: the linked article above refers to the area as an "evolving downtown landscape." I believe that's a typo and the "d" is missing in front of the "e" in "evolving", plus the area is not really the alleged downtown area)

It's taking over the building deserted by Chevy's "Fine" Mexican food restaurant. "Fine" is in quotes because the "food" made me want to "vomit."

The Big Boy was in town up until 1994 then left. To be perfectly honest, I've only went into a Big Boy once (that doesn't sound right, does it?) and that was on my way to Vegas in a little town called Hesperia in the high desert. They call it the high desert because there's a lot of meth there.

Anyway, I remember the food being subpar, but a helluva improvement on Chevy's. If you want some killer Mexican food in West Covina, I STRONGLY, HIGHLY recommend Senor Baja on Glendora Avenue, or Ghost Town West Covina, as I like to call it. Best. Fish Tacos. Ever.



I consider myself a connoisseur, if you will, of fish tacos. I've been all over the land, from the Frisco Bay, to Baja California, and the best fish tacos are right here in the San Gabriel Valley. Yes! Even better than Ensenada. I want to drown in the fish batter and eat my way out.

For the old schoolers, Senor Baja used to be called El Taco Nazo. In fact, the location in Baldwin Park still is called El Taco Nazo, but the fishy goodness is all the same: just the right amount of cabbage and sauce, and fish fried to a crispy brown. Hold on a sec... I think I'm drooling.

So what the hell is this post supposed to be about?

Whatever, man. I'm goin' to Senor Baja. I'll be the guy in the corner in the food coma, sauce all over his face and cabbage on his shirt. Just shake me awake so I could finish my meal.

All You People Up There at City Hall....

OK. I will start with a disclaimer: In no way do I advocate violence, riots in the streets, breaking windows of small businesses and starting f***ing fires.

It's a joke. It's a song called "City Hall," by comedy musical duo Tenacious D. I found it fitting since I write about City Hall. So, from me to you: Enjoy and lighten up!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Newsflash: Shelley Sanderson Agrees with the Watcher

This just in: West Covina City Councilwoman Shelley Sanderson has publicly said she agrees with the West Covina Watcher!

In fact, her exact words were: "I couldn't agree more!"

Ch-che-check it out here!

Actually, whether she intended to or not, she let slip her real motive for voting to halt the broadcasts when she claimed the broadcasts helped Fred Sykes "stand on his soap box and have his 5 minutes to campaign for free on the taxpayers money."

You campaign for free on taxpayer money every time you open your mouth on the dais, lady. Tell me, how much taxpayer money over the years have YOU used to fly to conferences, stay in nice hotels, eat, etc? I'm sure a lot. I'm not saying that's a completely bad thing, but if you're going to live in a glass house...

Why not cut the council's and commissions' per diems all together and put that into public safety? Because those per diems are supposed to help enhance the city -- just like the broadcasts.

Bring 'em back!

New Look, New News

Hey folks. As you can see, the Watcher did a bit of an overhaul. In no way, shape or form am I web savvy, so I had to go with one of blogger.com's templates.

The reason I changed it is because I discovered California City News and since they were kind enough to link to this very blog on their site, I figured I should do the same, and make it dominant enough for others to see. The other layout made it a bit harder for me to do that.

On to the new news: Concernced Citizens for West Covina is handing out a petition to get the City Council meetings back on the air!

Like I've said over and over, I find the uncensored meetings are a lot more helpful than relying on Discover West Covina, or "Herfert Herald," for my city news, considering the newsletter is controlled by the powers that be.

If you're interested in signing the petition, just shoot me an e-mail and I'll send your info to Mr. Sykes. I'm sure he'll come to you!

Some doubt the petition will do much good, and others suggest just about anyone could sign it, whether they live in West Covina or not. I have to disagree. Mr. Sykes ran for City Council, so I'm sure he has a nice database of West Covina voters he could get to. Secondly, three members of this esteemed board are up for re-election soon. How would it look if they went against the people's will?

What I think, though, is the recent West Covina Fire Department commercials on Charter are sticking in their collective crawl a bit more than this petition. There I am, watching Family Guy on the Cartoon Network when I see this building burning and hear a 9-1-1 call playing over and text on the screen that reads something like "A person can't live without oxygen for more than 4 minutes" and then a little girl is chasing a ball in her pool, then a voice over talks about budget cuts increasing response times.

At first I thought it was regarding all California fire departments, then at the end I learn it is in regards specifically to the WC firefighters.

It probably would have been even better if they showed a photo of the council or the city manager with the voice over saying, "These people want you to DIE!" LOL! I kid, I kid. But they did use the "fear" tactic, of which I have never been a fan, especially since the whole "Going-to-Iraq-without-proper-intelligence-causing-the-deaths-of-over-4,000 Americans-using-people's-fear-of-9/11-to-justify-it" thing.

But that's just me. Any opinions or thoughts?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Where the Streets Have No Name


Looks like the Tribune finally made some calls to figure out what the hell is going on in Ghost Town West Covina.

As the Watcher's already reported back in March, all the great businesses excited for a "downtown revitalization" have packed up and left, such as Romano's Macaroni Grill, Dono Sushi, Vieta Coffee, Juice it Up, Red Brick Pizza and the Hawaiian restaurant that later became Seafood Bay and the Red Room.

Some blame the economy.

I blame petty politics.

The thing is this: Since being elected to City Council, Mayor Pro Tem Hernandez has been talking about downtown revitalization to anyone who would listen. He's been pushing for it for, I don't know, five years or so now.

When the new Lakes development started, everyone was talking about it being a catalyst for something huge -- pedestrian friendly, mixed-use where commercial and residential can co-exist in the same building, and so on. It's all the rage. They even have one of those developments in freakin' Maywood! Maywood, for crying out loud! I used to date a girl from Maywood and my mother wouldn't let me go see her there because she was sure I'd get shot.

Fast forward just a little: The council changes and Hernandez happens to have a beef with re-elected-after-being-ousted Mike Touhey over God knows what, and all of a sudden -- Downtown West Covina revitalization is not plausible, even after the city spent a QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS on a plan and a gazillion citizen meetings. In fact, at one point, the City Council, with Herfert absent, offered to take the plan off the shelf.

The very next meeting, when Herfert was back, it was re-shelved. Wonder why.

While doing research for this post, I came across a very interesting article from the Los Angeles Times, and I think I'd like to post it in all its glory on this very site:

--
West Covina revives lofty goals for downtown; Talk of transforming the area into an urban village has resurfaced, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea.
Paloma Esquivel
Times Staff Writer

In West Covina, where "downtown" could best be described as a pair of mid-sized avenues anchored by a movie theater, there's talk of transforming the city's core into a bustling urban village. But there's been talk before.

For at least 10 years, the city has fostered visions of a busy downtown where high-end loft-dwellers stroll around the corner to restaurants and locals pass the time chatting at coffee bars. Plans were made and community meetings held. There were even whispers that the city was ready to use eminent domain. But nothing happened.

Earlier this month, talk started up again when the City Council proposed creating a subcommittee to revisit downtown revitalization. What the committee will actually do isn't clear.

There's widespread agreement that downtown businesses are in trouble, but little consensus on how to fix their problems, officials said. Even those who agreed to create the committee disagree about its goals. And the question of whether high-end development addresses the community's affordable housing needs is hardly on the radar.

Business leaders, city officials and community members are split on whether mixed-use development, which blends high-end lofts and condos with office space and entertainment venues, is a good idea, said Gary Lawson, who heads the West Covina Chamber of Commerce. But he said that most agree: "Something needs to be done."

Since 1994, nearly $2 million has been spent on downtown infrastructure improvements and almost $500,000 has been allocated for area planning studies, according to city reports. But downtown still isn't attracting enough customers, Lawson said.

Locals often head to Orange County, Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles for entertainment and restaurants.

Some local businesses are struggling to stay open, said developer Ted Slaught.

"I think downtown is a more idle place today than it was five years ago. We have fewer retailers," said Slaught, who helped develop the city's Lakes center, which includes an Edwards movie theater, a Barnes and Noble, a Macaroni Grill and other restaurants and stores.

Red Brick pizza, Juice It Up and Vieta Coffee have all failed at the center and others are looking to leave.

Slaught blames the city for not moving forward with revitalization plans.

"The Lakes Entertainment Plaza was always envisioned to be the centerpiece of a downtown pedestrian village," he said. Now, "there's a centerpiece but nothing surrounding it."

Councilman Steve Herfert said downtown isn't as troubled as some paint it. There's no need for dramatic change, he said.

"We're a city that's pretty well built out," he said. "Most of the businesses that are downtown are doing OK." But he acknowledged that most restaurants in the area "do well on the weekend, but they don't do well during the week."

The existing downtown area isn't on a major thoroughfare and doesn't attract pedestrians, said Doug McIsaac, city planning director. Without a natural center, the city has to "create the attraction," he said.

He looks to Old Town Pasadena as one possible model.

"Maybe you don't know what you're going to do when you get there," McIsaac said of Pasadena's popular center, "but there are multiple entertainment venues and restaurants and you can park in one place and walk to where you want to go."

Still, plenty of skepticism over revitalization remains. Three years ago, the city spent nearly $230,000 to develop an ambitious plan known as Scenario C. It called for realigning Glendora Avenue and Lakes Drive to create lofts and office space and would have cost nearly $20 million for the improvements necessary to get started -- $14 million was planned for parking upgrades, McIsaac said.

Initially, council members agreed to move forward, but plans were scrapped after elections changed the makeup of the board, officials said.

Councilman Roger Hernandez expects the new subcommittee to revive Scenario C, pushing West Covina into a future where dense housing meshes with entertainment and restaurants, he said.

"The goal is to spruce up the area and create a higher-end village downtown," Hernandez said.

But Mayor Sherri Lane said turning downtown into a bustling urban center isn't a reality.

"That's a major overhaul of that whole area," Lane said. "I'm not in favor of doing something that drastic . . . I have concerns regarding density, traffic and congestion and the strain on city resources."

Councilman Herfert said there may be unrealistic expectations surrounding the committee's overall goals.

"I just don't want to mislead people," he said. "We've gone through this thing so many times. I don't anticipate a whole lot coming out of it."

--

Interesting... Herfert thought all was well when, obviously, it's not. I can't help but wonder, with his head in the sand so much, how does Herfert's face maintain a perpetual sun burn?

Like I said, we could blame the economy, but before this horrific downturn, we had the money and the city probably had developers salivating to get in there and shake shit up. I know how those bastards work.

But, you know, since Roger Hernandez wants it, we'll probably never get it as long as he's on the council. But if he ever leaves, how much you wanna bet it'll be back on the table?



Friday, July 11, 2008

Interesting Math

As most of you know, the Watcher is saddened by the cancellation of West Covina City Council meetings on Channel 55. According to city officials, it was due to budget cuts.

However, there was no attempt to kill Discover West Covina, the city's monthly newsletter that goes out to all residents. I have noted on this blog in the past that I would prefer to have the non-edited broadcasts of the meetings than the "Herfert Herald," which is loaded with warm and fuzzy Big League Dreams news and other fluff controlled by the city. Some call it propaganda.

An interesting tidbit, though: Discover West Covina probably costs more to produce than the airing of the Council meetings, according to one of my wonderful readers.

He or she says City Manager Andrew Pasmant stated the broadcasts cost about $150-180,000 a year to produce. However, nowhere have I heard how much it costs to publish the newsletter. So, our friend did some math for us, which is a good thing because the Watcher is not very good at the math. I have the lady in accounting balance my checkbook (I kid.) So, A. Williams is going to break it down for you:

The City manager also acknowledge[d] that the city publishes 35,000 copies of the Discover West Covina magazine every month.

If you conservatively estimate the cost of publishing the Discover West Covina @ approximately $1.75 + .41 postage=$2.16 each. or
35,000 X 2.16 X 12 montn=$907,200/yr.

The City Manager also indicated that they could cut back on the publication, with a 2/3 cut back there would still be a publishing cost $302,400

So... does anyone know how much it costs to publish and distribute the newsletter? If so, I would LOVE to know.