Tuesday, April 22, 2008

...In Bloom

It's been a pretty slow week for posts because it's been hectic at work and home. But I want to take this opportunity to actually PROMOTE something POSITIVE in the city.

For years, the Cherry Blossom Festival has been a favorite of mine and my family. This year, it is taking place on Saturday, April 26 at the Civic Center Courtyard. If you've never gone, you must. There's delicious food, entertainment and it's a very, very inexpensive way to keep the kids entertained. It runs from noon to 6 p.m.

I hope the weather cooperates because there is rarely a more beautiful event hosted by the city. Maybe because it's in conjunction with the East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oh Brother...

Take out your keys, cell phones, spare change and paper clips out of your pockets and purses: Our City is buying metal detectors.

Yes, yes.

To uphold this weirdo ordinance that prohibits retired and off-duty police officers from carrying their weapons in City Hall, the city will be purchasing metal detectors. This passed on a 3-2 vote with Councilman Touhey and Mayor Pro Tem Hernandez voting against it -- Touhey because he's a lifelong member of the NRA, and Hernandez because he just doesn't feel right about taking the rights away from retired and off-duty peace officers. He calls it "bad public policy." In fact, he went so far as to say he believes this ordinance was brought about specifically because of Fredrick Sykes. (read my post about this here).

But I digress.

The City is buying the metal detectors, even though the council didn't vote on that. According to City Manager Andrew Pasmant, it was an administrative decision.

Give. Me. A. Break.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Booze, booze, booze

OK. So I promised a post about booze and I'm a little late. But before I start, I'd like to thank a reader from Arlington, VA who suggested I choose a layout a little less like the North Korean flag and enable it so anonymous users could comment on the posts. I thought I did, but I didn't. I apologize. Everyone: Have At It!

So on with booze.

The Planning Commission heard arguments on April 8 against the proposed repeal of a years long ordinance that prohibits the sale of alcohol at gas stations. This comes after the City Council voted to approve a gas station built by Councilman Mike Touhey's well-known developer client. I wrote a post about this already here.

Now we hear from Herb Redholtz, the planning commissioner who is totally gunning for council in four years (not two because his besest friends foreverest Touhey, Sherri Lane and Shelley Sanderson will likely be running for re-election), that the owner of the gas station swears no booze will be sold at his station.

I guess it's a wait and see game. But at this point, most speakers are against this repeal, throwing out all these stats like there's already like 140 places to buy booze in the city, and repealing the ordinance would include 14 more.

The matter is going back to the council because it came from the council, but according to the commissioners, none of them really agree with it.

So... who wants to bet you'll be able to get a six-pack with your top off?

Come to think of it, after paying 4 bucks a gallon, it doesn't seem such a bad idea to take the edge off.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Case Closed

Looks like Carlos Thrasher won't be facing jail time after all.

That's got to be a relief. Also in this story it claims our Mad Scientist Steve Herfert was also investigated by the DA's office for conflict of interest. Where was the media on THAT one? When Roger Hernandez was investigated, and no charges were filed and the case thrown out, the local press treated it like Watergate!

Oh well. That was a few years ago. Maybe their staff was beefier or better or both. Who cares?

What I do care about is booze... Watch out for the second post on that subject later in the day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Law & Order: CWC

Today marks the first day in the trial of former Planning Commissioner Carlos Thrasher.

Look at him here. This guy has seen it all and his allegiance to his country is definitely not in question in this trial.

What is in question, however, is whether he exercised his power on the Planning Commission to "get back" at his former landlord.

Carlos and his company stayed in an office building owned by Ziad Alhassen. That guy owns everything, including almost every dealership on Auto Row. But Carlos got deployed, couldn't pay the rent and Alhassen wanted the money back. In return, Carlos allegedly spearheaded a vote against an Alhassen development when he was on the planning commission. He's also accused of failing to disclose on his conflict of interest forms that he even owed about $17k or whatever to Alhassen. That, I guess, is against the law.

I guess we'll see what happens now. I haven't necessarily formed an opinion yet, mostly because I'm not keen on the laws. I am upset, however, that we -- you, me, her, him -- are paying this guy's legal bills even though he's no longer a commissioner. The Four Bosom Buddies on the council thought we should be paying his bills, even though we are facing a severe budget deficit and have paid through the nose already for legal fees on other issues.

Do you think that's fair?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Weird Science

OK. Let me get this straight: Steve Herfert earns a bachelors degree in recreation and now he works as a "scientist" for SoCal Edison. I remember him once saying, "All I have is a bachelor's in recreation" when arguing with Roger Hernandez, who holds a masters degree in public administration, about something park-related. I remember that so clearly because somehow, Herfert made me feel guilty for holding a masters myself. From a state school, but still, it's a masters, damnit!

I don't know what Herfert does at Edison, but I did find a very interesting comment on Foothill Cities Blog that says:
  1. an marcos Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    my favorite piece in the aritcle is where they proclaim steve herfert a “scientist”. since when is a meter reader a “scientist”?

  2. gilman Says:
    October 10th, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    C’mon….everyone knows that a meter is a piece of scientific equipment.

Oh, so he reads meters? OK. I. Get. It. Now?

Then I started to ponder Mr. Herfert's scientific skills. Somehow, he got elected a bazillion times to the City Council, even though he's kind of mean to people who don't agree with him and he convinced the city to spend more than $50 million on a ballfield, and convinced everyone that playing baseball on top of a dump is a good idea.

Oh, but my favorite of all faves is the fact that he could be so cozy with a former planning commissioner who is charged with conflict of interest and perjury and convinced at least three of his colleagues to give this guy money for his defense.

Maybe it's because this commissioner, Carlos Thrasher, did a couple of tours in Iraq and tried to resuscitate a guy who collapsed at the dais and later died. Maybe, though, and what of which I am most convinced is he simply hates Ziad Alhassen. According to Ben Baeder of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Herfert got pissed when Alhassen didn't forgive a debt Thrasher owed him on back rent.

"It is clear that Herfert took great interest in the dispute between Thrasher and Alhassen. He wrote a letter to this newspaper on Dec. 22, 2004, laying out his concerns.

'As if the hardship on his family wasn't enough,' the letter read, 'last week Carlos received a letter from the previous landlord threatening to sue him if his full office rent isn't paid within 11 days.'

At the time, the 'previous landlord' was Alhassen, according to Thrasher.

Herfert's letter continued: 'I am seeking to raise a few bucks to help with his previous landlords (sic) demand.'

A month later, at the very next scheduled council meeting, Herfert asked the city's staff to provide him with a list of all debts owed to West Covina by Alhassen, according to council minutes from Jan. 18, 2005. During council meetings in February 2005, he criticized the city's plan to restructure deals with Alhassen. In April 2005, Herfert wrote a letter to this paper criticizing the city council's decision to redraw a contract with Alhassen."

While I sit here with a degree in English Lit and am currently working as a Human Resources manager, I can't fault Mr. Herfert for electing to enter a field that has nothing to do with his degree. According to his past of convincing people to go along with bad ideas, maybe he is qualified to be a scientist. He's working some sort of magic at least.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Badges? We don't need..Wait. Badges Don't Matter?

Our illustrious City Council decided best that people should be banned from bringing weapons to City Hall. That is a fantastic idea, except state law already prohibits arms from coming into government buildings, according to West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills.

A local ordinance duplicates state law when it is 'coextensive' with state law.[1] Although state law already prohibits the carrying of weapons in state or local government buildings, it also creates a number of exceptions to this prohibition.[2] The proposed ordinance narrows State law by narrowing the exceptions. For example, contrary to California law, the proposed ordinance prohibits individuals, such as off-duty and retired peace officers, from carrying weapons in City Hall and on adjacent City owned and operated property. As such, the proposed ordinance does not duplicate State law.

Essentially, this ordinance will prohibit off-duty and retired police officers from carrying weapons into City Hall. Thank God! I feel so much safer now that sworn officers who led their entire adult lives upholding the law and keeping communities safe are now unarmed.

Now, the three members of the Council who voted for this ban, Steve Herfert, Shelley Sanderson and Mayor Sherri Lane, will say it's because of safety and scary situations, like in Missouri when a nutjob opened fire on council members. That is scary. Too bad there weren't any other retired and off-duty police officers in the chambers to stop that guy before he started.

No one else will say it, but I will. Their true motive for this ordinance boils down to two words: Fredrick Sykes.

Sykes is an outspoken critic of the City Council and ran for office in November. He's been going to council meetings, speaking out and carrying a rad fanny pack that probably contains a weapon of some sort. He is, after all, a retired deputy sheriff with LA County.

And man, does he look like a badass. He is tall and built like an Iron Man. I bet that guy does nothing all day but drink protein shakes and work out. Well, in between council meetings and his job as a Human Resources Commissioner for the City of West Covina.

But why is Freddy so scary to the Council? They'll never admit they are, but I know better. And you probably do, too. They expect me to believe it's a coincidence this ordinance comes about when Fred is continuously at the meetings questioning their decisions? Why didn't they do this 10 years ago when a deranged ex-employee opened fire at Riverside City Hall. Herfert was on the council back then.

Now, how are we going to enforce this ban? The honor system? Well, if someone is crazy enough to shoot up City Hall, I seriously doubt an ordinance, and maybe a neat little NO GUNS sign, is going to stop him or her.

Metal detectors? E gad. They have enough problems with people not getting involved in the city. Metal detectors are just going to drive people away, that's why Riverside took out their metal detectors in 2004.

I guess we'll see. I'll be the guy sitting in the front row with a bowl of popcorn watching this play out. And I'll be unarmed.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Oh, Moe!

How does a chimp have so much power that he's making headlines when he's not even around?

I don't know Moe, never met his human parents, LaDonna and St. James Davis, but I read with much shock and horror as I learned Mr. Davis got mauled by a couple of chimps when he visited Moe on his birthday in some animal haven near Bakersfield.

I didn't think that man would make it through the night. Then a few months later I saw him at El Torito. He didn't have a nose, he was missing an eye and he was in a wheelchair, but other than that he seemed he was enjoying his Sunday brunch.

The Moe "saga" (as the local paper likes to call it) is still going strong in West Covina. Last I heard was the city and the Davises are still duking it out in court over who should be paying for Moe's housing. The Davises sued the city after the police department took Moe away in A-Team fashion after the city passed an ordinance prohibiting the housing of wild animals within the city limits. He was then supposed to be housed somewhere in Baldwin Park but none of the officials -- except for their then-City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman-- knew about it. Did I mention he was also West Covina's attorney at the same time, too? Oh yeah. This guy is the KING OF CONFLICT. Not surprisingly, he no longer worked for Baldwin Park soon after that. I think he might have been fired, but I don't know for sure.

After reading some past entries in the Foothill Cities Blog, I learned he reads it, doesn't like it, and even threatened to sue! Now I'm wondering if he read this little blog since our friends at FC gave us a shout out. If so, welcome, Mr. Glasman, and feel free to leave a comment.

Speaking of comments, I'm getting a ton of great emails from readers. Thank you so much for your support. But please, don't be afraid to post a comment or two.

And here's to Moe: Cheers. It wouldn't be West Covina if we didn't hear about you once in a while.