Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

Citizen About Town

Citizen About Town

By Nancy C. Arcuri, Editor and Publisher

E-mail: nancyarcuri@thecitizensvoice.net

Fax: 626-307-9081

I reminded our City Council at the August 4 meeting that Monterey Park has two serious problems, our image and the lack of transparency.

Our early Councilmembers and their business buddies wanted our hometown to be developed like a small Midwest town.  They made the commercial sites too small for any big box stores to keep out any competition. They were successful in keeping Sears out of downtown Monterey Park.

In the 1980’s the business owners from the Pacific Rim countries decided to make Monterey Park their own hometown.  They subdivided the stores smaller and put up foreign language signs.

Most American businesses and shoppers do not feel welcome in our downtown area.

This Council voted to spend $200,000 to have consultants advise us on how to bring in more business.  What did we get for our money?

Residents have made several suggestions to Council to bring in American stores to the Market Place, the Atlantic Square – Prado shopping areas and along Potrero Grande and McCaslin Park area.

Residents are still in the dark about the Market Place project.

During this meeting Councilmember Mitch Ing said that we received a binder from Stanley R. Hoffman and Associates, the consultant with many ideas for the city to act upon.  The consultants wanted more money if they hold town hall meetings and workshops for the residents.

On June 8 a presentation of the findings and recommendations of the 2010 Economic Development Strategic Plan was made to a joint workshop of the City Council, Planning Commission and Economic Development Advisory Board.

Members of the Planning Commission and Economic Development Advisory Board advised Council that they would hold town hall meetings and workshops for the residents to help revitalize our shopping districts.

Council approved a professional service agreement with Chester S. Yoshizaki to be the interim Economic Development Director until an Economic Development Director is hired. Mr. Yoshizaki has years of experience in the field.  It is hopeful that he can help Monterey Park.

This project many take many years as the residents have many development issues to correct from shallow commercial lots, old buildings, small stores and foreign language signs that cover up store fronts.

In the mean time most of the residents shop in other cities at American stores. Our tax dollars are spent out side of town.

This Council voted to spend $80,000 on an audit of Athens, which was up for discussion at this meeting.  Residents want to know if that $80,000 was well spent?

At this meeting the Council pulled the final Athens Audit Report from the agenda.  They claimed that the Director of Public Works, Elias Saykali was not available for this presentation as he was on vacation.

I read the report and there are no grievous findings.  Council majority (Chu, Ing and Venti) based their request for this audit on their negative feelings about Athens and rumors about Athens from their buddies in Montebello.

Monterey Park will be very lucky if Athens does not sue us for slandering their good business name.

During the budget hearings this Council spoke about buying the old service station on Potrero Grande and the 60 Freeway to build a new fire station.

This Council has not announced to the residents if Los Angeles County Fire Service can provide the same “apples to apples” fire and paramedic services that we now enjoy.

I read a letter on May 8 addressed to Fire Chief Cathy Orchard from Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman who said that the county could not provided the same fire and paramedic services required by the voters of Monterey Park so the county would not be doing a study on the city going with the county fire service.

Yet on August 4 this Council had yet to announce that the city would not be involved with a county fire service study.

I spoke to the interim City Manager Don McIntyre and asked why this information was not announced to the residents since it was common knowledge at City Hall.

The Council has been speaking about all of our budget cuts, staff reductions and salary reductions required to balance our budget.

A check of our 2009 public records shows that Councilmember Anthony Wong was paid a salary of $6,230.79 with $8,556.89 in insurance benefits. Betty Tom Chu, elected to office in 2009 was paid a salary of $4,846.17 with $10,960.80 in insurance benefits. David Lau was paid a salary of $6,230.79 with $16,301.86 in insurance benefits. Benjamin “Frank” Venti was paid a salary of $6,230.79 with $11,732.34 in insurance benefits.  Mitchell Ing was paid a salary of $6,230.79 with $15,149.47 in insurance benefits.

While the salaries are in line with the state regulations the insurance benefits are based on the age of the insured and the number of family members on the policy.

Councilmembers are part time employees of the city.  The part time staff of the city and corporate America is not paid benefits.

Think about how many employee salaries Council could have paid with the $280,000 in unnecessary expenditures not to mention the salaries that they could have paid with their insurance benefits.

Three of the Councilmembers (Chu, Venti and Lau) are eligible to collect Medicare and buy their own supplement insurance, one Councilmember (Wong) is self-employed and he should have his own insurance benefits through his company and one Councilmember (Ing) could be carried on his wife’s insurance policy at work instead of her getting a bonus for not buying her insurance through her company.

Why are we the taxpaying voters paying for Council’s insurance benefits for their part time jobs?

This Council is requiring the employees make sacrifices to balance the city’s budget.

It is time that this Council sacrifices their insurance benefits to help balance the budget.

Councilmember Ing spoke about an investigation being made by the City Attorney Mark Hensley regarding the insurance benefits that retired Councilmembers Alonso and Balderrama receive and that Councilmembers Lau and Venti could receive these benefits when they retired.

He did not answer my question why our part time Councilmembers are received insurance benefits when they are cutting staff’s salaries and laying staff off.

The Council majority Betty Tom Chu, Mitch Ing and Frank Venti seem to believe that only they can save our city from disaster.  Their current request is to be part of our Workers’ Compensation review panel.  They want to see all the records on the employees who have filed a claim for Workers’ Compensation.

Mr. Ing referred to a list and expressed surprise at some of the names of our retired staff on the list.

We have a third party, CorVel Corporation, who handles this process. They work closely with the Human Resources, Risk Management and City Manager on all of the claims.

The representatives explained the whole process to Council and residents during the meeting.  They have safeguards to prevent bogus claims. They said it is better to settle an honest claim then to have a Workers’ Compensation judge give the worker a very generous settlement.

I am very concerned that Betty Tom Chu, Mitch Ing and Frank Venti will cause us more legal troubles by putting their noses into these delicate discussions.

These Councilmembers have been spreading rumors about people and businesses for years.  I would hate to have our employees’ medical information be spread around our city and the neighboring cities.

Allowing our City Council access to these Workers’ Compensation records will prove to be a fatal mistake for our hometown.

You can help stop this insane issue by calling City Hall 626-307-1255 and just say no to this Council’s request.

Our city employees and residents deserve better.

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