Monday, June 30, 2008

Oh, Moe!

Looks like Moe high-tailed it out of his home in Devore.

If you live in West Covina, and you don't know about Moe the Chimp, you haven't been paying attention these last 30 years or so.

Well, LaDonna and the badly mauled St. James Davis have been wanting Moe free for years. Now that he is, I wonder if they preferred him caged where they could regularly visit him?

Since Moe doesn't have any in-the-wild experience, I'm sure the Davises are desperate to find him. Unfortunately, I think finding the simian will be tough in the forest, but the best of luck to Moe and his human parents. Hopefully, the Davises don't file yet another lawsuit against the city for the latest chapter in the Moe Saga.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Although this didn't happen in West Covina, it is an incident that affects all of us: A student thought it "funny" to replace the names of people in the Black Student Union at Charter Oak High School in Covina with names like "Tay Tay Shaniqua," etc. in the yearbook.

What are these parents teaching their children, and how did this not get caught before the yearbooks were printed? The whole thing is vile and I hope the student responsible gets expelled and this incident is a permanent mark on his or her record. In fact, it should be considered as a form of vandalism and the student should be charged with defacing private property. Yearbooks are worth a lot of money. He or she should also be forced to apologize to each and every student hurt by this, including the students in the BSU and the yearbook staff who worked hard all year to have a product of which they could be proud.

We should all be outraged! Let's call for action!

Charter Oak High School is located at:
1430 E. Covina
Covina, CA 91724
Tel: (626) 915-5841

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Semantics in City Hall

Remember in the flurry of '90s grunge bands there was this up-beat, hippy-like band called the Spin Doctors? They're biggest hit, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" seems to be the only song I remember from that era.

According to VH1, the Spin Doctors have since broken up. So where are they now? My money is on them working behind the scenes at the city of West Covina.

We heard a lot the other night about budget cuts, but city officials were proud to tout the fact no full-time employees got the ax. As a reader pointed out to me in an e-mail,
"There were people at the meeting that had been let go and Roger Hernandez was going to address their situation. The city brings up the fact that there were no full-time employees let go because of the cuts in the budget. They fail to disclose all of the part-time employees that were let go due to the cuts. I guess if you are not full-time then you are not really an employee of the city."

Why was this little fact not disclosed by anyone at city hall? The first I heard of it is when it was mentioned by Fred Sykes, and even then I did not know ALL the part-time employees were given the ax. I read the entire staff report and the layoffs were referred to as "personnel cuts." No mention of how many, from which departments and how long ago.

These are indeed tough economic times, but the city of West Covina is notorious for partial disclosure. Now that the meetings are no longer airing on cable or the Internets, it will be tough for the average resident to know what is going on, unless they subscribe to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, or regularly read this blog. **hint, hint**

By the way--while the live broadcasts are being cut, the city decided to keep milling out Discover West Covina, the monthly newsletter delivered to West Covina residents. Content is controlled by the city so it is very unlikely the absolute, pure truth will be added. It kinda reminds me of, oh I don't know, Cuba.

Speaking of which, the city's PIO, Sue Williams still has her job. What the hell does she do there anyway? I've rarely, if ever, seen her quoted in the newspaper, and I'm sure the fluffy stories she probably pitches go ignored. How much does she make, and how much does that newsletter cost? I'm sure we could keep the uncensored stuff streaming and on TV if we got rid of those things.

I'm not hating on newsletters, do-hardly-anything Public Information Officers, or good news from the city. But really, if I read one more fluff piece about that goddamn $50 million Big League Dreams ballpark, I'm going to vomit. Speaking of which, has the city looked into grants to pay for that monstrosity? My guess is no, but that's just a guess. All of that development that popped up along Azusa Avenue, including the Target, Home Depot, is going STRAIGHT to BLD, where I'm sure sales tax revenue could be better spent on police, fire, jobs and other parks that you could use for free.

The argument against that, however, is those commercial entities wouldn't be there if not for BLD. I'll call bullshit on that. It's in a prime location on probably the busiest street in the San Gabriel Valley. I'm sure Target and Home Depot would have taken interest regardless of the presence of the pay-to-play ballpark.

Well, it's too late to grumble about it now, but unfortunately I have this vision. My vision is that episode of The Simpsons when Bart gets his license, rents a car and he and his buddies are psyched to got to the World Fair in Knoxville, and when they finally arrive... ghost town.

I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Attack of the Killer Thong

This has nothing to do, in any way, shape or form, with West Covina.

But I couldn't resist.

Look out, ladies (and some men--not that there's anything wrong with that): Danger could be lurking in your underwear drawer!

Touche, Mr. Touhey

Last night I had my bowl of popcorn, a nice, cold, sweaty bottle of beer and the remote control.

Unlike the rest of the greater Los Angeles area, however, I was not watching The Game.

I was watching the West Covina City Council Meeting, and to my surprise, it may be one of the last times. The city, inspired by a looming budget deficit, decided to halt all cable TV production.

What? No more poorly shot fluff from city events? While I won't miss the mayor trying to act like a news correspondent on the weekends, I will miss watching the meetings from home. Though I believe I could still watch online.

City Staff took a hatchet to the budget and it looks like the projected deficit is about $2-3 million less than originally anticipated. And that's a good thing.

The reserve is definitely less than it was just a couple years ago, but it's still pretty healthy. According to WC Finance Director Thomas "Bueller, Bueller" Bachman, the reason for the shortfall is simple, although when he talks about it seems like it's not.
"That deficit is projected to grow in the future due to a structural imbalance in the General Fund in which revenue growth is not keeping up with expenditure growth," he says in the staff report.

Well, after hearing a lot about numbers and deficits and cuts, I admit I was a little snoozy, especially after my second bottle of beer and an empty bowl of popcorn.

And then, something magical happened.

Councilman Mike Touhey mentioned the council did not send out well-wishes to Councilman Roger Hernandez's ailing father, who passed away just three days after the last meeting, at the June 3 meeting. He explained it wasn't their place to inform the public, in case there were family members out there who didn't know what was going on. If you remember, I was wailing on the council for what seemed to be a heartless act.

At the end of his speech, he says: "There were some shots taken at this council, not by Fred Sykes but by someone else. ... I wanna makes sure all the bloggers out there, WEST COVINA WATCHER, who takes shots at us, says things, to me that was a low blow."

I don't think my blow was necessarily low. Well wishes are well wishes and it wouldn't hurt to send them from the dais. I'm not taking a blow at Touhey, though. He did rise above the pettiness and I believe he was probably sincere, along with Mayor Lane.

So, Mr. Touhey, now that I know you read this blog, I will say this: While I don't necessarily agree with your contention, I understand your reasons. That, and Thanks for the free ad. On TV, no less!

I need some traffic up in here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Giddy like a school girl

As I write this blog, I'm not annoyed with the fact my co-worker has Sugar Ray playing on the radio. Normally, I am.

I was stuck in traffic, iPod out of juice, forced to listen to REO Speedwagon on Jack FM because I hate "morning shows."

Still, nothing can touch me today.

The reason is some wonderful person posted something on the Leftovers from City Hall blog about your's truly. He or she called him or herself "Friend of West Covina Watcher" and linked to this very site.

Like I've said before, not many people post on this blog, although I do get emails from concerned residents with tips and whatnot. So it's nice to see some person out there thinks enough of me to go to a blog A LOT of people read and give me a "shout out," as the kids say.

In doing that, however, I feel I have a bigger responsibility to be more up-to-date. Although, I wish I could track the number of people who visit this site. Does anyone know how to do that?

Tonight there's a lot to watch at the West Covina City Council meeting. There may be some drama considering the members will be looking at its $8 million deficit. Just a couple years ago, the members were touting the city's balanced budget and healthy reserve. Now, times seem less rosy. Could it be the economy? Absolutely. No one is safe from that. But who didn't see it coming? Economic times are always cyclical and when we saw the housing bubble get bigger, and bigger and bigger, we should have all known it was going to pop, and with that, the rest of the economy would have followed suit.

It doesn't take a financial genius like, say, WC Finance Director Thomas Bachman, to see this downturn coming. All you have to be is literate and occasionally watch the evening news.

Still, with no other backup plan, like federal and state grants, to fund Big League Dreams, we went and built it anyway. Is it fun? I'm sure it is. Personally, I won't let my kids play so close to a toxic landfill, but that's just me.

But it's too late to bitch about it now. Not enough people bitched about it before, and the council was so caught up in building a Legacy Project for Steve Herfert, they lost sight of what was sure to come. And why no warning from Mr. Bachman? I'll bet all the money in the bank his concerns came up but went ignored and he kept mum for fear of losing his job and that of his boss, City Manager Andrew Pasmant.

Speaking of Mr. Bachman, I can't shake the "Bueller, Bueller" monotone of his voice (Kids of the '80s should get that reference).

Anywho, also on tap is an ordinance that would track sex offenders via GPS. That is B-O-L-D to say the least. I believe this is a Touhey ordinance, but for once I can't really criticize him on it. Five years ago I would have said this is an obvious, blatant attack on the Bill of Rights and should go the way of the dodo (Kids of the '50s should get that reference).

But now I have children and I have to say my Number 1 fear of all fears (and that includes clowns) is pedophiles. I don't believe this ordinance will stand up in a court of law if some brazen rapist challenges it, but I have to commend Touhey for even trying.

Lastly, thank you for reading. Please...Don't be afraid to post messages!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bye, Fred

This is Fred Ortega. He was a reporter with the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and the Pasadena Star News. He now works for Judy Chu, who sits on the board of equalization.

I enjoyed reading Fred's stories when he covered the city of West Covina. He was always fair and from the photo above, looked like a pleasant guy.

I'm sure he will be missed, but with the state of newspapers the way they are going, I don't blame him a bit for leaving.

When pettiness rears its ugly head

This Saturday I watched the City Council meeting. I couldn't do it Tuesday because along with rushing to the polls before 8, I had -- let's say -- a germ-magnetic child situation. Obviously, Councilman Hernandez was not there due to his father's ailment. As a good friend should, Human Resources Commissioner Fred Sykes went to the podium and let the community know he was out due to the health of Mr. Rogelio Hernandez Sr.

Instead of a nice word, a "get well soon," or anything of that nature, all anyone on that dais had to say was "Can we state for the record it's not Councilmember Hernandez, but a family member?" And that was stated by -- you guessed it -- the council member with a heart of gold, Steve Herfert. But that's not what is most disturbing for me. What is more disturbing is that a source who was in the audience told me Herfert had a smirk on his face the whole time. Another had sent me an email and said while some members of city staff attended the wake and/or funeral, Mr. Herfert and Ms. Shelley Sanderson were no-shows at both while Councilman Mike Touhey and Mayor Sherri Lane were not only there, but very, very classy and heartfelt in offering their condolences. Touhey and Hernandez even hugged! I would have paid a million bucks to see that.

I only bring this up because not long ago, Herfert had this whole diatribe about how when horrible things happen, it makes all the bickering and infighting on the dais seem so petty and trivial.

Yeah. Way to NOT be petty, Steve.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sad news

Sad news coming from West Covina. Rogelio Hernandez Sr., father of Mayor Pro Tem Roger Hernandez, has passed away.

Now, if you're a City Council watcher like I am, how many times did you hear Mayor Pro Tem Hernandez start, or end, a story with an anecdote about his father? Many. Here is his obituary:

Rogelio Hernandez Sr.

HERNANDEZ -Rogelio Hernandez Sr., As a young man, Rogelio of Walnut came to the United States with little more than a strong work ethic and a passion to build a life and family of which he could be proud. Fulfilling that passion, Rogelio passed away June 6. He was 63. Rogelio embodied the American Dream and was the epitome of a patriarch. He instilled in his four children the importance of ambition, pride, empathy, and was that rare kind of person who had both a sharp mind for busi ness and a heart for compassion. With those traits, he and his wife, Obdulia, raised children who would become leaders in politics, law enforcement and academia. Always humble and giving, Rogelio also shared a kinship with nature since he was a child on his family's ranch. He often took long walks along the horse trails in Walnut and would become mesmerized by the rolling green hills that hug the 57 Freeway.An oft-repeated phrase in the Hernandez household was "Let's go to the park." He will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him, shaking his hand and landing a kiss on his cheek. Rogelio is survived by his wife, Obdulia; sons Roger, Gilbert and Jaime; daughter Veronica; father, Luis; two brothers, a sister, cousins, and many nieces and nephews. Services begin Thursday at 7:00 p.m. with a wake at St. Elizabeth's Ann Seton Catholic Church in Rowland Heights. Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Friday at St. Elizabeth's, followed by a burial at Resurrection Cemetery in Montebello.