West Covina Honors Four, Cancels Meeting Despite No Budget

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The West Covina City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, July 3, in the city council chambers to honor four people, address trouble with trees and cancel the Aug. 7 council meeting, among other things.

After the city council issued a proclamation declaring this July as Parks and Recreation month, they went on to recognize four individuals.

West Covina City Council announced a proclamation to regard July 2018 as Parks & Recreation Month. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Commissioner Luanne Arredondo was appointed by Council member James Toma. The council would describe how much she has done and despite her departure they said they know she will still be involved with the community.

West Covina City Council recognized Commissioner Luanne Arredondo for her service. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Arredondo herself thanked Toma for appointing her and said the council was very responsive to questions she brought up on behalf of the community.

Fire Captain Brian Scott Gilmore has been a captain since 2012, and although he is leaving to Tennessee, one member of the “fire family” tricked the person giving the speech for Gilmore into thinking he was leaving to Nebraska.

Much to his chagrin when the council floor erupted in laughter, realizing the set up worked. The speaker only knew Gilmore for seven months, so in order to give the speech he asked around.

Lucky for him, the rest of the speech had information that was provided by reliable sources.

West Covina City Council recognized Fire Captain Brian Scott Gilmore, giving him his own sign and plaque. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Gilmore has been on a Subway commercial, served as a Public Information Officer for West Covina and has been tackled and almost shot by the secret service.

His run in with the secret service was when they wanted people to move back for a motorcade, but Gilmore got down on one knee to take a photo. The procession came to a complete stop, and the service put a stop to Gilmore’s threatening photography.

Gilmore renamed several members of the fire family, joking that they were not fitting and he also similarly renamed himself Shag Westen. He only mentioned two people who had names that fit them.

There was a brief chuckle at an exchange made by the speaker and Gilmore. Gilmore made a comment along the lines of “got to drag it out” to which the presenter quickly replied “well you’re leaving,” drawing more laughter.

When Gilmore took the microphone, he told everyone in the chambers that his advice to his son was to enjoy doing what he does.

Gilmore said that he still loves his job as much as he did when he came to work as a rookie in 1980. He ended his recognition by thanking the council and his fire family.

The Police Department Computer Services Technician, Bobby Korpos was given the descriptive names of “MacGyver” and “Most Interesting Man” by his speaker.

West Covina City Council recognized Bobby Korpos, the Police Department’s Computer Services Technician. Photo Credit: Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

He was given MacGyver for his skill at reworking and fixing machines, and interesting for his varied history and stories from his experience.

He has lived on four different continents in several countries, and was a graduate of the Romanian naval academy. He also loved through a civil war in Africa in the 1980s before spending 14 years here.

He is moving on to South America, but he said he will come back every six months to tell more stories.

The final person recognized was not there in person.

Fire Chief Larry Whithorn was selected for an NYC program to ascend 80 floors of the new World Trade Center building in full gear.

He completed the run in little over 27 minutes, and the council showed a clip of his pass through, which can also be found on Twitter.

Of the consent calendar two items were pulled off, item 2 and item 3.

Item 2 regarded campaign contributions and only Mayor Pro Tem Tony Wu and Councilmember Mike Spence voted no. The item passed 3-2, with the mayor breaking the tie.

Item 3 regards a cancellation of the Aug. 7 City Council meeting. Spence and Toma were the only two against the measure.

Spence said he does not think they should cancel until the budget is passed and started a motion to postpone cancellation, in an effort to keep the meeting.

Councilmember Corey Warshaw saw no reason to put it off and the motion despite being seconded by Toma failed to pass.

The consent calendar item canceling the meeting was voted on next and with only Toma and Spence voting against, it passed 3-2 with the mayor breaking the tie.

After positive recognition the mood was dampened with Oral Communications where the focus went back to the mismanaged budget.

One speaker lamented about a basic policy that stated no money should be spent over what is brought in, and that 40 minutes were spent on wording. The speaker also said that it has to be really bad when bond holders say no to the city.

The city manager would later say the policy was recommended for auditing.

Another speaker asked for anonymous lines of communication to the council, similar to the anonymous police tip lines.

Then a second speaker brought up the $44 million deficit and suggested a temporary tax with a sunset clause just to keep the city afloat enough to get bonds.

A sunset clause would allow it to be modified and end in the future, instead of being a permanent new tax.

There was on positive comment made by a 20 year resident that their trees were finally trimmed, but they wondered aloud why it was done on trash day. This question went unanswered, but the “thank you whoever” was a change of pace for the segment.

Following that comment was a speaker who noticed the resurfacing of Cameron Ave, and asked if the intersection with Lark Ellen Ave will be addressed. The intersection reportedly has potholes and a dip that causes cars to bottom out and scrape according to the resident.

The city manager would later respond that they will look into it.

The second to last speaker was passionate about the budget and outright rejected the sunset clause tax proposal of the other speaker.

“We pay taxes on taxes,” he said. “I’m sick of taxes.”

He said he wondered if the council would ever get the mindset of live within means and he said to the council “grow a spine” and advocated against consultants.

He also said funds were being wasted at one point saying, “Any high school senior with a laptop could have found Mark.”

He ended by suggesting they sell assets or do something closing with “Figure it out or resign.”

“Tell them how you really feel,” one audience member quietly joked to the person beside them.

Former mayor Fredrick Sykes closed out oral communications by asking for some numbers from the city manager. A stark soft contrast to the speech before this small request.

The meeting addressed public hearings to which there was still trouble in the city’s calculations with the trees. The numbers did not line up properly, so Item 12, the citywide lighting and maintenance public hearing, will be put off again.

The items that were held off from last meeting regarding trees in certain districts passed unanimously.

The only highlight being a response given by one passionate resident in District Number 4, the forgotten district as the resident calls it.

The city manager asked about a sidewalk, which sidestepped the resident’s concerns about a poor welcome sign, and a $381 thousand bili that is being spent despite there not being an office there.

She also said it was time for the staff to leave the desk and see the problems.

So when the city manager asked about the sidewalk, she burst.

“You look for it yourself, dammit.”

There was some talk about making some parts HOA, or a part of the homeowner’s association, which requires legal work, but no decision was officially made regarding that.

The last item was implementation of a pilot program for an alternative transportation model. It passed at a unanimous 5-0 vote, but the council did not determine whether they would use Uber, Lyft, or TNC in connection with the DAR, Dial-A-Ride, program.

There was a lot of focus on the benefits and drawback of each with the consensus being that DAR is still needed and that they would look into the performance of this pilot program.

The next regularly scheduled West Covina City Council meeting is on Tuesday, July 17.