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.


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?


Anonymous said...

Hello Watcher. I first want to say thanks for printing my letter.

I would like to ask a question in reference to your grassroots story.

In your story you write - "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"

Let me share with you that as a Council Member we DO in fact need to hear from the people. How would we do our jobs unless the people express what they would like to see? It's not a negative thing nor should it be referenced as such. It's sad when people make it sound like the Council are bad people, but it is our job to listen and make the best choice for the community. We can't listen unless we are told about the issues that concern you.

In the many years of serving on the Council this is just how it works.

As a resident, City government is as close as one can get. Once you get into Assembly, or President your voice is much more silent.

S. Sanderson

West Covina Watcher said...

I agree with you 100%. I've been saying for as long as I remember that local government affects people more directly than state or federal governments. I was trying to convey that some of the decisions you have made as a council have been, for lack of a better term, overturned by this group. The decision was already made with regard to this overnight parking ordinance, but the loud voice of the people changed it. That's what I was trying to get at. But thank you for your input. I wish more council members would give theirs, or at least use their real names when they do :-)

Anonymous said...

I would have to say it's not this particular group you speak of, it's the community. Over the years there has been many that speak out once they hear of something they don't want to see happen in their community.

As a matter of fact, that's how I got involved in City politics. I heard there was interest to remove a 50 year old park and build condos. I got the neighbors involved and there you have it. I think many of the other Council members got their start just the same way.

There is really no over turn on the parking issue because the prior discussions about it had approximately 70 residents in favor of no over night parking. So we were heading down the path the majority at that time wanted. A different voice became louder and the Council did their job and listened. I still feel with the support that there are parking problems in our City we will need to look at other options very soon.

However, understanding the chain of events is just as important as the end result because so many are quick to say someone is a bad person because they changed their stand.

I think there are always misunderstandings and maybe that's why I feel it is important to communicate with the public when I can.

S. Sanderson

Anonymous said...

Chris Chung is a tool and a whiny baby. Someone should give him his baba filled with bacon grease and Krispy Kremes so he'll STFU.