By Bill Dunn
At times attempting to pay attention to what is going on in your local government is not unlike having a swarm of bees living in your head. So began the recent buzzing in my brain.
It started a couple of weeks ago when the current mayor in the rotation here in Temple City, Tom Chavez, got the bad news that his city sponsored vacation, I mean business trip, to China had been cancelled.
He was planning on going on a currency quest to see if some foreign investors there would like to swap some cash for permanent residency with some EB-5 visas. EB-5 has become a very popular little program nowadays where foreign investors with enough cash, $500,000.00 is the minimum buy in, and the desire to live in the U.S., can work out a deal.
Tom and his councilites wanted to use the dough to kick start what is currently called “The Gateway” formerly called “The Piazza” but will always be known to residents in the San Gabriel Valley as “The Fiasco at Rosemead and Las Tunas”.
His council buddies said that due to the recent Wong, Wilson & Wang scandal they weren’t going to underwrite his little jaunt, for fear of possibly perceived impropriety. City manager, Jose Pulido, voiced his disappointment saying he hoped that the cash would help them start the Fiasco, I mean the Gateway construction at the same time they would be starting the demolition and alleged beautification of Rosemead Boulevard.
Say what? Okay I’ll get back to that in a minute. Let me get you caught up on the China excursion first.
In what I personally view as kind of an odd turn of events, Randy “I Couldn’t Build A House Of Cards If My Life Depended On It” Wang who was at the heart of the scandal that sent Cathe Wilson and Judy Wong to prison and is the one that has been holding the corner of Las Tunas and Rosemead hostage, is paying for a couple of members of the Temple City chamber of commerce to go with him to China.
Talk about your perceived impropriety. They may not be city employees, but I have a funny feeling that the potential investors they are going after may get the impression that they are. Just call me suspicious, but I can hear the excuse “lost in translation” being used somewhere down the line when future litigation is being discussed.
Now back to the construction double dipping on Rosemead Boulevard that city manager Pulido was referring to.
Back in October I made a call to city hall to ask a couple of questions on the “proposed” modifications to Rosemead Boulevard, the street on which I live. I had received a flyer about a meeting that invited residents to share their concerns about the “proposed” renovations. The artist rendering shown on the flyer included solid medians full of trees, shrubberies, and faceless people walking and riding bicycles.
What I wanted to know was, if there was a median in front of my driveway that would prevent me, or anyone else, from making left turns in or out of their driveways and businesses.
The answer was, of course, yes.
The people on the committee that I spoke to, Kristi and Steve, sent me straight to the top. Via e-mail, they hooked me up with council member and head of the committee, Carl Blum, with the requisite cc’s to council member Vince Yu and city manager Jose Pulido.
Carl was quick on the e-mail draw. In part he stated the following: “I understand the concern you brought up and will add it to the comments we will receive at Thursday’s meeting. We will evaluate the input we get and will determine what adjustments we feel need to be made to the proposed design. We will probably not finish that process until late October. We will get back to you at that time.”
His email made me feel special and that my concerns mattered. The council would see what a burden their plans would be for me and my neighbors. They would find a way to modify their plans to please their citizens.
I can be such an idealistic fool sometimes, and this was one of them.
When the time frame ol’ Carl had specified had come and gone I started to smell something foul. I shot him off an e-mail to see if he and his buddies had found their erasers yet.
Carl’s response?: “While it would cause some minor
inconvenience to those living on the east side of the 5100 block of Rosemead Blvd who might wish to travel south on Rosemead Blvd, they would be able to travel north for a short distance to Sereno and then loop around to Sultana and then to Pentland and enter Rosemead Blvd to go south at the traffic signal at Pentland or they could go a little further north and make a u-turn at the traffic signal at Broadway. It
would be no different than for those who live along the many miles of wider more heavily traveled roadways that already have medians (including much of Rosemead Blvd, Huntington Drive, Santa Anita Dr., and Baldwin Ave as examples).”
I learned two things from his response. First, it confirms my long held belief that they put hallucinogens in the water at city hall. Second, I now know what classifies as a “minor inconvenience” in the eyes of the current city council.
I wonder what they would call it if someone put a barrier in front of their house preventing them from making a left turn in or out of their driveway? Somehow I don’t think the word “minor” would be involved.
A few questions popped into my spinning head as I read his email. Who decided that the 17 million dollars available for this project should be spent on this? Why, just because mistakes were made on Rosemead, Huntington and Baldwin, should we repeat them?
And the biggest why of all? Why would anybody think it would be a good idea to begin two major construction projects on the same street at the same time? Isn’t this something that the residents in the city, if not all the surrounding cities, should be deciding on? Or don’t you care what kind of traffic nightmare you would be causing for all of our neighbors?
Oh that’s right, I forgot, it would only be a minor inconvenience. Kind of like having bees living in your head.
Bill Dunn has been a published opinion columnist for 14 years. Any comments can be sent to either our exalted editor at email@example.com or to Bill directly at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also find Bill on Facebook at : www.facebook.com/WhenAllisSaidandDunn