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Selected articles regarding the City of Rosemead -- Page 3

This website provides the followed Rosemead-related articles:

1. Nunez accused by city worker

2. Council selects Garcia as attorney

3. City to weigh hiring of attorney

4. Rosemead swears in new mayor; Tran among first Vietnamese to hold position

5. Vote may have launched new era in Rosemead

6. Imperial loses Rosemead council seat

7. Low leads fundraising pack in Rosemead race

8. City Council candidate square off

9. Rosemead City Council Members Beat Recall Attempt

10. Rosemead recall goes to the voters

11. Wal-Mart opens

12. Low tops list in fundraising among candidates in recall

13. Judge OKs Recall Election Of Rosemead Officials

14. Rosemead, Calif., city manager steps down

15. Rosemead APAs Takes on Wal-Mart

16. Rosemead approves Wal-Mart Supercenter

17. Wal-Mart Comes To Rosemead

18. Rosemead recall will go to ballot

19. Do We Buy It?

20. Garvey vacancy to wait for election

21. COPE-Endorsed Candidates Sweep Elections

22. New council members serve on school boards

23. APAs Win in SoCal

24. In Rosemead, a wake-up call for Wal-Mart friendly officials

25. Community in transition


For more articles regarding the City of Rosemead, see Rosemead-Info.4t.com. and Rosemead-Info.4t.com/page2.html.

Nunez accused by city worker

By Frank C. Girardot and Jennifer McLain, Staff Writers

ROSEMEAD - A city employee has accused Councilman John Nunez of sexual harassment, according to documents obtained Wednesday.

The Rosemead City Council met in closed session April 3 to review the harassment claim filed by employee Valerie Mazone. The complaint, dated Feb. 5, was filed with the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment.

Although the city reported the claim to an insurance adjuster on March 5, one day before the general election, it was stamped received by city officials on March 8. Nunez was not on the ballot.

"I was subjected to a sexually harassing work environment by John Nunez," Mazone, who works in the city's finance department, wrote in her claim.

City officials and Mazone's attorney, Gregory Smith of Beverly Hills, declined to elaborate.

Nunez had little comment on the allegation.

"I'm told not to say anything," Nunez said Wednesday. "Just remember, anyone can make a demand or a claim."

The city hired an outside attorney to investigate the claim. Elected to the City Council in 2005, Nunez makes up one-third of a new majority that came into power with the election of Polly Low in March.

Nunez's prior electoral experience was as a member of the Garvey School District board. In the mid-1990s, he was also a member of the Alhambra School District board.

Low's election forced longtime council member Jay Imperial from office. It set into motion a series of recent personnel changes that culminated in the resignation of City Attorney Peter Wallin two weeks ago.

The council immediately replaced Wallin with Bonifacio Garcia, whose firm also represents the Garvey School District. Nunez requested Garcia's appointment on April 3, just prior to the council going into a closed session to consider Mazone's claim.

A resident of Monrovia, Mazone is active in a local Girl Scout troop and volunteers at Arcadia Christian School. Her attorney, Smith, said she plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

She has taken an administrative leave since filing the claim, officials said.

The city has a published sexual harassment policy and grievance policy, said Oliver Chi, deputy city manager. The policy applies to employees and elected officials, Chi said.

Depending on the severity of the complaint, city officials can take a variety of actions, including hiring a private investigator.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Pasadena Star News, April 12, 2007.

Council selects Garcia as attorney

By Jennifer McLain, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - The City Council voted Tuesday night to hire a new attorney after longtime legal counsel Peter Wallin resigned.

Just as some community activists suspected, the new council majority of Mayor John Tran, Councilman John Nunez and recently elected Councilwoman Polly Low gave the nod to Bonifacio "Bonny" Garcia of Garcia, Calderon & Ruiz to serve as lead attorney.

The council did not consider any other other lawyers.

"I think Bonifacio is a well-respected attorney," Nunez said.

Allies Gary Taylor and Margaret Clark voted against the approval of the firm, which they said had a potential conflict of interest since it also represents a school district suing Rosemead.

Instead, Taylor and Clark requested more time to examine the proposal and also open the position to other bidders. Their requests were voted down by Low, Nunez and Tran.

"I think we are jumping the gun," Taylor said.

The City Council accepted the departure of Wallin, who said in his resignation letter he was sorry to end his firm's 30 years of service to the city. Rosemead will retain the services of Lisa Kranitz of the firm to handle five pending lawsuits.

Residents and city officials said they were not surprised at Wallin's decision to resign after disagreements between Wallin and Tran and Nunez.

But some questioned why the city was in such a "rush" to hire a new attorney instead of taking more time to review potential candidates.

"This is absolutely backwards," Clark said of the quick decision. Wallin submitted his resignation letter last week.

Clark said she was concerned about the potential conflict.

"I have no problem with you personally," she told Garcia. "But you do have a clear conflict of interest."

Garcia's firm represents the Garvey School District, which has sued Rosemead over the opening of the Wal-Mart Supercenter. The district claims the center has created more traffic for the students at Rice Elementary School, which is across from the store.

Legally, however, Garcia said that while his firm may represent the Garvey School District, he does not.

"There is no conflict," he said.

Tran, who has now served as mayor for eight days, emphasized that Garcia, unlike the previous attorney, would not charge the city for benefits. This change would save the city about $25,000 a year, he said.

Some residents, such as Alejandro Gandara, welcomed the change.

"I am happy to hear that we will no longer have their firm," Gandara said.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, April 4, 2007

City to weigh hiring of attorney

By Frank C. Girardot, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - The City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday to consider hiring a new city attorney who has drawn fire for his billing practices and connection to a school district that is suing the city.

Last week, attorney Peter Wallin submitted his resignation to the city after three decades representing Rosemead in court. The resignation followed a contentious election that saw longtime councilman Jay Imperial lose a re-election bid to newcomer Polly Low.

Councilman John Nunez has proposed replacing Wallin with Bonifacio "Bonny" Garcia, of Garcia, Calderon & Ruiz.

Garcia's firm currently represents the Garvey School District, which has sued Rosemead over the opening of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. The district claims because the big box retailer is across the street from Rice Elementary School, extra traffic creates a health hazard for students.

"I don't represent Garvey in that matter," Garcia said.

Some council members and residents raised several questions about Garcia's proposal and past billing practices.

"We're lawyers," Garcia said. "We can interpret the law, and I don't represent the Garvey School District in any matter adverse to the city of Rosemead."

The council will vote Tuesday on the choice, but not everyone in the city is happy with the suddenness of the decision.

"They should be hiring an interim and nothing else," community activist Jim Flournoy said Friday.

Flournoy, who has two suits pending against the city, said the council should "do a full vetting, as they would with any other city service."

Garcia had his billings called into question last year while he was working at his former law firm Burke, Williams and Sorenson. The San Diego Union-Tribune learned he had billed the Sweetwater School District in San Diego County for as much as 15.3 hours in a day, and $131,708 between July 1, 2005 and the end of May 2006.

The Union-Tribune investigation described Garcia's practice of "portal-to-portal" billing, or charging the Sweetwater district an hourly rate for his time from the moment he left his Los Angeles office until arriving in Chula Vista. He also charged for the drive back to Los Angeles and mileage for the round trip.

"I would hardly call that an investigation," Garcia said. "The shots we're taking in San Diego are coming from our effective representation there."

Rosemead would join the cities of Arvin and Wasco in the Central Valley and Redwood City in the San Francisco Bay area as communities represented by Garcia's firm. The firm was formed in August last year when Garcia, a Harvard educated attorney, and his partners broke away from Burke, Sorenson and Williams.

A proposal submitted by Garcia to Rosemead doesn't indicate whether or not he would impose "portal-to-portal" charges.

In the proposed contract, Garcia asks for a flat rate of $225 per hour for the general services of his firm. For what Garcia terms "speciality services," he has proposed a rate as high as $275 per hour. There is no cap to the amount of hours his firm could bill the city in the course of a month.

"This is our standard retainer agreement," Garcia said. "Our client will see what value there is. Of course I believe our law firm is the best thing since sliced bread."

Among the items identified as speciality services are litigation "relating to public or school financing, business and real estate, eminent domain, inverse condemnation, construction defect, or other construction related litigation."

Besides the Garvey School District case, Rosemead is facing litigation from four other fronts, two of those remaining cases would likely fall into the realm of special services as they relate to the construction of Wal-Mart.

One of the cases, filed by Flournoy, alleges that Wal-Mart was built in such a way that flouted state law regarding seismic safety. The other, filed by Save Our Community, a local activist group, suggests Wal-Mart has a negative environmental impact on the community.

The last case involves a dispute between Rosemead and Baldwin Park over an motorcycle dealership that moved from the former city to the latter in 2005.

Wallin, whose firm is handling those cases, has charged Rosemead a flat retainer of $5,500 per month for general services.

Wallin said he typically performed between 30 and 40 hours of general service each month. Those hours included two council meetings, two planning commission meetings, four staff meetings each month as well as general telephone advice and review of proposed resolutions and ordinances, he said.

"All of the routine stuff," Wallin said. "If I have to be at a meeting, I don't bill. My duties include attending the council meetings."

If the monthly retainer was broken down to a per-hour rate, Wallin was charging between $137 and $185 per hour.

Additionally, Wallin said he billed the city $195 an hour for speciality services, including litigation, administrative proceedings, personnel matters, claims and pending litigation.

In those instances, Wallin, whose office is in Santa Monica, employed a similar practice of billing for his time to and from appearances, he said.

Wallin and Councilwoman Margaret Clark questioned whether or not Garcia would have a conflict-of-interest.

"It's very strange to hire a law firm that has been involved in a lawsuit against the city," Clark said in a statement released Friday. "It is very disturbing to see that in their resume they didn't disclose that they are attorneys for the Garvey School District, which in my opinion is a clear conflict of interest."

Wallin said Garcia could avoid the accusation by obtaining waivers from both Rosemead and the Garvey School District.

"He might want to call the bar hotline and get their impression," Wallin said.

The State Bar of California offices were closed Friday in observance of Cesar Chavez's birthday.

Garcia said his firm could provide high-powered services to the city of Rosemead.

"We really do believe in truth in advertising," he said. "I always tell my clients that the bullet comes through the city attorney's office first, the city manager's office second and city council last. I also tell my clients that I don't want to take any head shots."

The suddenness of change followed the departure of Imperial, who survived a recall election last year only to lose his re-election bid earlier this month.

Imperial and his allies on the council, Gary Taylor and Clark, held a majority of votes and voted in favor of bringing a Wal-Mart Supercenter to the town of 55,000 residents in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley.

Coinciding with opening of Wal-Mart, Rosemead has been undergoing a decadelong demographic upheaval that has seen an influx of Asians to the once predominantly Hispanic community.

Because of Low's opposition to Wal-Mart, her ascension potentially sets up a new majority on the council if she aligns with Mayor John Tran and Nunez, both outspoken opponents of Wal-Mart.

Garcia had his billings called into question last year while he was working at his former law firm Burke, Williams and Sorenson. The San Diego Union-Tribune learned he had billed the Sweetwater School District in San Diego County for as much as 15.3 hours in a day, and $131,708 between July 1, 2005 and the end of May 2006.

Pasadena Star News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune, March 31, 2007

Rosemead swears in new mayor
Tran among first Vietnamese to hold position

By Frank C. Girardot Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - John Tran's family fled communist-controlled Vietnam in 1979 with hopes of finding a better life in the United States.

Tuesday night, Tran, 31, was sworn in as mayor of Rosemead. As a result, Tran claims he is the first person of Vietnamese descent to become an elected mayor of any city in the United States - or the world for that matter.

"None of the Vietnamese politicians in Orange County ever won elections for mayor," Tran said. "Mayors in Vietnam aren't elected, they're appointed by the government."

The Sacramento-based Asian Pacific Islander Public Affairs Association was unable to confirm whether or not Tran would in fact be the first Vietnamese-American mayor in the United States.

Tran's political ally, Mayor pro tem John Nunez, said he had also done some research and could not find any instance of a Vietnamese American who had served as mayor of any U.S. city.

Like their counterparts in many cities throughout the state, Rosemead City Council members rotate into the mayor's job. Typically, it is the vice mayor (or in Rosemead's case, the mayor pro tem) who assumes the chief executive position. But, Tran said he was contacted by Nunez, who asked him to take the job now. "I believe pro tem Nunez wants to pass it up this year," Tran said.

Nunez said he would rather be mayor next year, when he is slated to run for re-election. He retained his position at Mayor pro tem Tuesday night.

Those who closely watch the City Council consider Tran to have a feisty personality.

"He's going to have to take the heat," said Jim Flournoy, an activist who has several lawsuits pending against the city. "He's going to have a tough time sitting there saying nothing."

Flournoy said several councilwatchers see Tran as a lightning rod and "puppet master" of the new majority that includes Nunez and the recently elected Councilman Polly Low.

"Now I think he's going to have to keep his cool and not be such an attack dog," Flournoy said. Tran maintains a strong political base in the city, Flournoy noted.

"I think that's why he's taking this job," he said. "Nunez's base isn't as strong and it will help his campaign next year if he is mayor then."

Nunez's term expires in 2008.

Earlier this month, Low defeated Jay Imperial, who had been a fixture on the City Council since the 1970s.

The other longtime members of the council, Gary Taylor and Margaret Clark, expect to now become the minority in the city they once ruled.

Taylor cast the lone vote against appointing Tran as mayor. The change in leadership has been reflected in ongoing changes at City Hall.

Among those changes, longtime City Attorney Peter Wallin submitted his resignation Tuesday morning.

Wallin's firm has represented Rosemead for more than 30 years.

Nunez, who supported Tran's bid for mayor, described Tran as a hard worker.

"He's good to work for," Nunez said. "He's driven and focused."

As for Tran's reputation for being somewhat brash, Nunez said he considered it a quality and not a fault.

"You can't lose your edge," Nunez said. "If that's the way you are, you have to be that way. I would say he's brash in a good way."

Pasadena Star News, March 28, 2007

Vote may have launched new era in Rosemead

By Jennifer McLain, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - Jay Imperial, 76, has served nine terms on the City Council, surviving a recall election in September that targeted him and Mayor Gary Taylor for votes backing a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

But Tuesday, the 1,503 votes he received were trumped by newcomer Polly Low, who received 1,868 votes, and Taylor, who received 1,673 votes.

Imperial said he was surprised he was not re-elected, especially in light of the recent recall results.

"I am afraid where the city is heading," he said.

During Imperial's 30 years on the council, his accomplishments included the construction of the Garvey Center and most recently the development of the Wal-Mart.

"Everything was seeming to go smooth" before Councilmen John Tran and John Nunez joined the council in 2005, he said.

Since their arrival, votes have often been 3-2, with longtimers Taylor, Imperial and Margaret Clark sticking together.

Some say his departure could signify a new era.

"It is a great opportunity for the residents," Tran said Thursday, "to really see a qualified person such as Polly Low to help transform the city."

Now that Low is on board, some have assumed that Low will side with Nunez and Tran.

"What worries me is \ now have the third vote," said Joan Hunter, past president of the Rosemead Chamber of Commerce. "I am afraid of what Tran and Nunez will tell her to do."

Some council votes that have been split were on a proposal to have a $5,000-limit credit card for council members and the approval of Wal-Mart. Tran and Nunez voted for the credit card limit and against Wal-Mart.

Clark was hesitant to say what the departure of Imperial means to the council and the city.

Some voters are welcoming the change, such as longtime resident Larry Bevington, who said he was encouraged by the new faces on the council.

"I just have a feeling that this is the age and the group that could really do this job," Bevington said.

Pasadena Star News, March 9, 2007

Imperial loses Rosemead council seat

ROSEMEAD - Polly Low and incumbent Gary Taylor each won seats on the Rosemead City Council Tuesday.

Longtime incumbent Jay Imperial will not be returning to the council after more than 30 years of serving.

"It is very disheartening," Taylor said. "He's worked very hard for the city."

Imperial came in third in the race for two seats, with 170 fewer votes than Taylor. Candidates Victor Ruiz and Robert Lopez also finished out of the running.

Low received the highest vote total, at 1,868. Taylor followed with 1,673, Imperial with 1,503, Ruiz with 1,197 and Lopez with 297.

"This was a very, very tough race," said Low, who ran in an unsuccessful recall election last year. "The incumbents were well established."

The recall targeted Imperial and Taylor for their votes to approve a 210,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter. Ruiz also ran on the recall ballot.

- Jennifer McLain

Pasadena Star News, March 7, 2007

Low leads fundraising pack in Rosemead race

By Jennifer McLain, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - With the March elections looming, city council candidate Polly Low is leading the money race against four others, according to campaign finance records.

Low, who ran and lost during a September recall election, has so far raised $20,098. This includes a $5,000 loan from Rosemead Councilman John Tran, as well as donations from other local politicians and developers.

"I don't think being able to raise a lot of money will guarantee a sure win," Low said. "It is up to me to be able to communicate with the community what my ideas are for the city."

Among Low's largest donors are Anthony Cheng of Alhambra-based Accolade Development, Quan Phu of Arcadia, and Rice Field Corp. of Industry. Each gave $2,000.

Low said that the contributions she has received from Tran and others will not impact her decisions on issues, if she is elected.

"There are people out there that if they offer a contribution, I might not take it," Low said. "If I feel that they contribute because they want something from me, I would not accept it."

Incumbents Jay Imperial and Gary Taylor have nothing to report, Victor Ruiz missed the deadline for filing his contribution statements, and Robert Lopez reported a $200 contribution.

The March 6 election follows on the heels of a recall targeting Imperial and Taylor, who have served on council for almost 30 years each. The recall was intended to nudge the two councilmen out of office for their yes votes on a 210,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Imperial said that he thinks the results of the recall election will be weighed heavily by the voters.

"I put a lot of hard work in this community," Imperial said. He has used signs from prior elections, including the recall election, in this campaign.

"I don't have a campaign or anything like that," Imperial said Wednesday. "I've just been out there in community."

Ruiz, who has not yet filed his campaign statements for January, said he has depended on money from residents, including a recent $5,000 fundraiser.

"I regret that I missed the deadline for submitting my candidate's statement to the Rosemead City Clerk," Ruiz said. "I want to assure my supporters that I am a viable candidate and am working hard on my election campaign."

Ruiz said he used whatever money was left over from the recall election and put it toward purchasing signs and fliers.

Low also has received financial backing from two local Assembly members. Mike Eng, a former Monterey Park councilman, contributed $500. The Judy Chu Campaign Committee contributed $1,000.

Low also received contributions from other local council members and council hopefuls. Monterey Park council candidate Anthony Wong contributed $350, and Monterey Park Vice Mayor Sharon Martinez gave $100.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, February 17, 2007

City Council candidates square off

By Jennifer McLain Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - Incumbents Jay Imperial and Gary Taylor are counting on their combined 60 years of experience on the City Council to carry them to their next term as they battle three other candidates for two open seats in the March 6 election.

The Rosemead council candidates shared their priorities, ranging from improving public safety to attracting more chain stores, at a forum attended by 40 people Tuesday hosted by the Soroptimist International Club of Monterey Park and Rosemead.

Also running are Polly Low, Victor Ruiz, and Robert Lopez Jr.

The election comes just after Imperial and Taylor survived a September recall election intended to nudge the two council members out of office for their "yes" votes on a 210,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Both Low and Ruiz were defeated in the recall election.

For some of the five council candidates, the Wal-Mart controversy is a thing of the past.

"I really want to put the Wal-Mart issue behind us," Low said. "The store is in, it is part of the community, and it is time to bring harmony back in the city."

For others, it is their platform.

"I had not planned on running for re-election," Taylor said.

But with the city still facing lawsuits over the construction of the Supercenter, which opened in September, Taylor said he feels he should protect Rosemead and Wal-Mart, which he called a "victim of extortion."

Attracting big-box retailers and other chain stores is among the top priorities for candidates Ruiz and Low.

"We need to bring in more traditional American shops and restaurants," Low said.

Ruiz said by having limited numbers of restaurant and store options in Rosemead, residents are spending their tax dollars in other cities.

Imperial said it is harder than it sounds to attract such establishments. He said he unsuccessfully "tried and tried" to attract such businesses as Hometown Buffet to the city.

Taylor listed five grocery stores that have left Rosemead, and said that in some instances, they left because of changing demographics.

But Ruiz said bringing these types of stores back should be of top concern to council members.

"Let's bring in what people need," said Ruiz.

Lopez said he hopes to bring more youth programs and services, such as a teen center.

Pasadena Star News, February 7, 2007

Rosemead City Council Members Beat Recall Attempt

ROSEMEAD, Calif. -- Two longtime City Council members savored their victory Wednesday after beating back a recall effort prompted by their support for the construction of a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

With absentee ballots and all 11 precincts counted, the attempt to recall Mayor Gary Taylor was rejected 2,467 votes to 1,718, a 59 percent-41 percent margin, according to semi-official results released by the City Clerk's Office.

The attempt to recall Councilman Jay Imperial was rejected by an identical 59 percent-41 percent margin, 2,513 votes to 1,735.

Taylor has been on the City Council since 1974 and Imperial since 1978. Both of their terms end in March.

"We're very pleased with the election," Kevin McCall Sr, the Wal-Mart manager for public affairs, said in a statement.

He called Taylor and Imperial "two fine civil servants who were working in the best interest of working families by bringing a full-service grocery store, more than 500 new jobs and a half million dollars in tax revenue to a community where they were badly needed."

Imperial and Taylor both supported plans for the 210,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, which is now open at the corner of Walnut Grove Avenue and Rush Street.

"Our store is doing exceptionally well. We look forward to continuing to work with the city council and to being a good community partner in Rosemead for years to come," McCall said.

Recall proponents argued that Taylor had a conflict of interest in the Wal-Mart issue because his daughter works for Sam's Club, which is run by Wal-mart.

Taylor said he backed Wal-Mart because it would bring 500 jobs and $700,000 in annual sales tax revenue to the city.

Imperial said that in addition to jobs and sales taxes, the retailer would provide "help for our senior citizens on fixed incomes."

Two other council members who backed Wal-Mart were ousted in the March 2005 city election.

Wal-Mart spent about $200,000 for ads and signs in support of Taylor and Imperial, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

www.nbc4.tv, September 20, 2006

Rosemead recall goes to the voters

By Christina L. Esparza, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - The U.S. Department of Justice will monitor today's recall election targeting Mayor Gary Taylor and Councilman Jay Imperial.

The court ordered the observers after the two councilmen complained the petition-gathering process that led to the recall violated the Voters Rights Act. They argued the petitions should have been circulated in multiple languages.

About 80 percent of Rosemead residents speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Taylor and Imperial - who have both been members of the council since the mid-1970s - are facing recall because of their support of a recently opened Wal-Mart Supercenter at Walnut Grove Avenue and Rush Street.

Candidates Polly Low, Victor Ruiz and Jim Clouet are running to replace the two longtime councilmen. Low and Ruiz are backed by Save Our Community, the organization that spearheaded the recall.

"When the dust settles, how do we pull together?" Clouet said. He pledged to draw on his municipal experience to make Rosemead a "cleaner, greener" city.

Voters will be asked first whether Taylor and Imperial should be recalled and, if so, who should replace them. Low is sole candidate for Imperial's seat; Clouet and Ruiz are vying for Taylor's.

Asked about his chances, Taylor said, "It's 50-50. It's up in the air."

"Both sides have been working very hard," he added. "I wouldn't place a bet on it. I think we're just trying to serve the residents and do the best we can."

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Ballots will be counted in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 8838 E. Valley Blvd., after the polls close.

The recall election is a culmination of two years of legal battles, finger-pointing and protests. Experts say it's unusual for a recall effort to reach this point, when the motivation for the recall does not include malfeasance or corruption. "Recalls that get all the way to a vote are usually something involving ethics or misdeeds," said Douglas Johnson, fellow at the Rose Institute at Claremont McKenna College.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter opened last week after the council voted 3-2 to direct the planning department to give the store its required permits.

Whittier Daily News, September 19, 2006

Wal-Mart opens

By Christina L. Esparza Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - The Wal-Mart Supercenter that spurred the upcoming recall election opened Wednesday after the City Council took an action some contend broke state open-meeting laws.

Wal-Mart officials said late last month the store would open in "early fall," but the City Council on Tuesday directed staff to grant permits allowing the retailer to open Wednesday morning.

City officials said issuing a permit is normally done without council action. However, it took a unanimous vote to discuss issuing the certificate, and Councilwoman Margaret Clark moved to direct the planning director to give Wal-Mart the permits early, officials said.

"The people want it open," said Councilman Jay Imperial. "They would have wanted it a month ago, two months ago."

City Attorney Pete Wallin said Wal-Mart asked for the permits before it finished some landscaping work, and the planning director didn't want to grant it without council approval.

Melissa O'Brien, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said store officials are glad the store is finally open, amid all the controversy surrounding it.

The motion to grant the permits passed 3-2 with Councilmen John Tran and John Nunez casting the dissenting votes.

Critics say the action was a clear violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs how public meetings are conducted, because it was an action taken without being on the council's agenda.

"Their illegal action has jeopardized the city and its residents," Tran said. "Obviously, this maneuver was an act of desperation and puts into question who controls the city - Wal-Mart or the people?"

The Brown Act does allow an item not on the agenda to be acted upon if four-fifths of the council agrees "an emergency situation exists."

But Terry Francke, counsel for Californians Aware - an open-meetings advocacy group - said the council needs to make a preliminary finding that an immediate action needs to be taken, and the issue was not known to the agency while the agenda was being prepared.

"I really believe when it says there is a need to take immediate action, the need must be the public's need, not the need of a private company," Francke said. "What is it that prevented Wal-Mart from approaching the city while the agenda was being prepared, indicating the need for the request?"

Planning Director Brad Johnson said his office was going to issue the permits within the next couple days anyway.

Wallin said the Garvey School District and anti-Wal-Mart group Save our Community - which are suing the company and city over the Supercenter - asked a judge Wednesday morning to place an injunction on the store's opening until the trial set for next week is over. The judge denied the request, officials said.

The store's opening comes less than a week before voters decide whether Wal-Mart supporters Mayor Gary Taylor and Imperial should stay in office.

Their support in 2004 of the nation's largest retailer prompted members of the community to launch a recall campaign after two other Wal-Mart supporters were ousted from office in 2005.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, September 14, 2006

Low tops list in fundraising among candidates in recall

By Fred Ortega, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD - Polly Low leads all candidates in fundraising for the Sept. 19 recall election, though candidate Jim Clouet has the most cash on hand, according to documents filed with the Rosemead City Clerk's Office.

Low raised $16,822 in July, giving her a total of $22,407. She was followed by candidate Victor Ruiz, who raised $2,328 during the same period, for a total of $8,378 in his campaign war chest. Clouet only raised $50 of his total of $4,350 in July, but had $32,032 in cash left over, mostly as a result of taking out a $50,000 loan against his home to fund his campaign.

By comparison, Low has $7,924 in cash left over, while Ruiz has about $4,600. Both candidates are supported by Save Our Community, the grass-roots organization that put the recall on the ballot.

The recall targets Mayor Gary Taylor and Councilman Jay Imperial, who have supported the Wal-Mart Supercenter being built on Walnut Grove Avenue. The center is opposed by Save Our Community.

Taylor and Imperial have not started campaign committees of their own, said City Clerk Nina Castruita. But a group they are affiliated with, No on the Recall, has raised $1,550.

None of that money has been spent, according to state-mandated campaign finance records.

Steven Ly, a spokesman for Taylor and Imperial, did not return calls seeking comment.

The one group not officially affiliated with any candidate, Wal-Mart-sponsored Rosemead Neighbors Against the Recall, raised the most money in July: a total of $25,000, all coming from Wal-Mart. The committee also has spent more than any candidate, pumping $71,369 into mailers, campaign literature, signs, office space and legal services in July alone.

Despite the results of her substantial fundraising - most of which came from individuals contributing $100 to $200 - Low said she knows she is no match financially for the retail giant.

"No matter how much I raise, I probably can't beat what Wal-Mart is going to put in," said Low, a 44-year-old software manager for Raytheon. "All I can do is do my best, connect with my supporters, who have been very enthusiastic. My plan is really to use the money very wisely, to inform voters what is happening in the city."

Low, who also received a $1,000 donation from United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 770, plans to get her message out through mailers and phone banking, as well as walking the community.

Like Low, Ruiz said all his precinct walkers, including himself, are volunteering their time.

"We are not getting paid," said Ruiz, 53, a civil engineering technician. He said Wal-Mart is hiring precinct walkers at $13 per hour to get its anti-recall message out to the public.

Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin McCall could not confirm whether Wal-Mart is paying for precinct walkers.

Ruiz said he raised an additional $12,000 during an Aug. 11 fundraiser at the Doubletree Hotel in Rosemead, after the last period's Aug. 5 reporting deadline. He said the largest contribution he received was a $5,000 donation from United Teachers of Los Angeles.

"I think we are doing really well, we have had a lot of positive response from the community, and that we will be victorious," Ruiz said, adding he has already heard a lot of complaints from residents as he has walked door to door.

"I have heard concerns about improving police response times and beautifying Rosemead," said Ruiz, who added that while he believes that Wal-Mart is a done deal, that the community is ready for new leadership on the council. "Some have told me that Rosemead is the ugliest city in the Valley, and I have to agree with them."

Clouet, who is not supported by Save Our Community, said the risk he took in refinancing his house is worth it to help improve his city.

"I loaned myself $50,000 at the beginning of the campaign, so I think my level of stress is a little bigger than most," said Clouet, 51, a government affairs specialist. He said that if elected, he would work to help the elderly and disabled improve their homes and to tackle the city's graffiti program, while striving to maintain the city's fiscal discipline.

"The city has almost $20 million in the bank, and we don't have property tax or utility taxes," he said. "That is a mantle of responsibility I hope to maintain."

More than 50 percent of voters must approve the recall to make it official. Those who vote no on the recall can still vote for a candidate, however, and have their votes counted if the recall is approved.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, August 23, 2006

Judge OKs Recall Election Of Rosemead Officials

(AP) ROSEMEAD, Calif. A judge has decided to allow a recall election targeting Rosemead's mayor and one if its councilmen.

U.S. District Court Judge Gary Klausner Friday lifted an injunction he previously issued to stop the recall election of Mayor Gary Taylor and Councilman Jay Imperial.

A coalition of residents and others opposed to the opening of a Wal-Mart store in the city are behind the recall effort.

While an appeal by Taylor or Imperial remains a possibility, members of the anti-Wal-Mart group say they will now seek to move forward with the recall election.

"We're thrilled about the whole thing," said Larry Bevington, leader of Save Our Community. "We've been struggling to get this recall election set up for a long time."

cbs2.com, May 27, 2006

Rosemead, Calif., city manager steps down

By Jason Kosareff

ROSEMEAD -- City Manager Bill Crowe will leave his post Feb. 21 after nearly four years at a job that saw him dealing with a fight over Wal-Mart, the state's fiscal crisis and a bitterly divided council.

In his resignation letter, Crowe called the past four years "rewarding yet challenging."

Crowe, who earned an annual salary of $ 149,360, is the third high-level City Hall employee to leave since March. Since the election, Rosemead has replaced its city attorney and city clerk.

Crowe said he was too busy to answer questions Monday but did say he has another job; he declined to say what it is.

One of his last acts as city manager has foes of the Wal-Mart Supercenter riled up. The city signed a partial building permit Jan. 19 that allows Wal-Mart to begin construction on a portion of its 5-acre building pad, although the grading of the pad is not yet complete. Wal-Mart is constructing a Supercenter on 24 acres at Walnut Grove Avenue and Rush Street.

Crowe's critics also slammed his relationship with Mike Lewis, a West Covina-based Wal-Mart consultant. Crowe and Lewis both worked under former County Supervisor Pete Schabarum during the 1980s. The two reportedly struck up a friendship. Wal-Mart foes said Lewis was granted privileged access to City Hall, and they were not.

Councilwoman Margaret Clark said she had a good working relationship with Crowe.

"He's been great," she said. "I'm really sorry to see him go."

Councilmen John Tran and John Nunez, who frequently clashed with Crowe and other council members, said Monday they were willing to work with their colleagues in selecting a manager.

"We're looking for someone we can all feel comfortable with," Nunez said.

Tran said he sees the council coming to a unanimous vote on who should replace Crowe.

In his resignation letter, Crowe said he has made a recommendation to the council for his replacement. Officials said there is a short list of candidates for the job, but were mum on which names are on that list.

One of the major challenges Crowe cited in his resignation letter was steering the city through the fiscal crisis of 2002-03 without making cuts to city programs and services.

Crowe's letter also said the city is now benefiting from a renewed focus on economic and community development.

"On a more personal level, I have had the pleasure of working with many dedicated and hard-working public servants, community leaders, organizations and residents," Crowe wrote. "I will miss you all. You will be in my thoughts and prayers in the weeks and months to come."

San Gabriel Valley Tribune, January 31, 2006

Rosemead APAs Takes on Wal-Mart

by Bill Picture

ROSEMEAD -- Opposition to a 251,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter has become a catalyst for Asian American political involvement in this bustling Los Angeles suburb.

Leaders to stop the Arkansas-based retail giant include Assemblywoman Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) and Rosemead's first Asian American council member, John Tran.

"It was quite interesting to see the turnout [for council meetings]," says Chu. "There are a very good number of APIs against Wal-Mart. There's a real reason for it. APIs usually have small businesses."

However, backers of Wal-Mart, including the city's mayor and two members of the city council (all of whom happen to be white) cite an estimated $300,000 in sales tax revenue and 500 new jobs.

But Tran says those numbers overlook the store's negative impact on its largely Asian host neighborhood and area businesses, nearly three-quarters of which are Asian-owned. The claims of new jobs and tax revenues are misleading, says Tran, because they fail to take into account lost jobs and lost tax revenues.

"The city of Rosemead is unique because it was built upon small businesses. Currently, we have 54 percent Asian Americans that reside in Rosemead. A lot of them are business owners. A lot of the markets, the local nail salons, the auto body repair shops, small businesses that provide food for their family, would be diminished by Wal-Mart."

Chu also questions Wal-Mart's treatment of female employees and employees of color, who together, comprise 89 percent of the company's hourly workforce.

"Wal-Mart has a bad reputation," she says, adding that many employees earn below poverty wages and only half get health insurance coverage, well below the national average.

The Wal-Mart project was originally approved unanimously by the city council in September 2004, but a group of angry residents, many of them Asian American and calling themselves "Save Our Community," stopped the development by convincing a Los Angeles court that the environmental impact report was insufficient.

When Wal-Mart presented a revised report 15 months later, there were a few new and not-so-friendly faces on the city council. Two of Wal-Mart's supporters had been voted out of office in March and replaced by Councilman Tran and John Nunez, both of whom opposed Wal-Mart. Tran received the most votes in Rosemead history.

Nevertheless, Wal-Mart still had the three votes it needed to get council approval, and the Super Center plan was put back on track.

Now two more council members, Gary Clark and Mayor Jay Imperial, are facing a recall election February 7, organized by Save Our Community. Meanwhile, the local school board has filed a new suit alleging that the city and Wal-Mart violated the school district's rights under the California Environmental Quality Act.

Polly Low, the only Asian American running in the recall election, has vowed to keep Wal-Mart out of Rosemead. She too is convinced that local Asian-owned businesses are at risk.

"I guarantee that a Walmart Supercenter in Rosemead would go after the Asian and Latino market. Why would the Wal-Mart supermarket allow Ranch 99 (a Chinese-owned grocery store) to continue to operate? That's ignoring a major demographic."

Her spokesperson, Roland Aranjo, who also represents a Latino candidate, says Low reflects the views of residents in Rosemead's predominantly Asian southern sector, where the proposed site is located.

"There's no doubt in my mind that [Jay Imperial and Gary Taylor] don't represent [those voters' best interests," he says.

In response, Wal-Mart lobbyists have created a new group called "Putting Rosemead in a Desirable Environment," and appointed local APA organizer Stephen Ly as spokesman.

But Assemblywoman Chu argues that an overarching problem is with the retailer's track record for breaking promises to its neighbors.

For instance, in October 2004, a federal court found Wal-Mart guilty of violating the Clean Water Act in nine states. One month later, a Wal-Mart automotive service center in Florida was fined for violating the state's petroleum storage tank laws.

"They [promise] to do certain actions to mitigate the harmful effects, but history has shown they violate those agreements," Chu explains.

Low is also deeply troubled by Wal-Mart's reliance on cheap labor in Asia. A 2004 study by the National Labor Committee showed that employees at a Wal-Mart supplier in China's Guangdong Province earned less than 17 cents per hour. The New York Times reported that other Wal-Mart suppliers require 11-hour workdays and take back half of the employees' wages for employer costs.

Low insists, "This is a human rights issue [as well]."

Whatever the final outcome for Wal-Mart and the upcoming recall election, the key players agree they are excited to see residents, particularly Asian Americans, getting more actively involved.

"I'm glad that APIs are mobilizing," says Chu. "I think [the Wal-Mart issue] can be a rallying point for the API community. [But] this is an issue that unites us all, regardless of our ethnic background."

Asian Weekly, January 05, 2006

Rosemead approves Wal-Mart Supercenter

ROSEMEAD -- Plans for a controversial Wal-Mart "Super Center" that have already helped cost two local officials their jobs were given the green light by a 3-2 vote of the City Council.

The council approved plans Tuesday for the 251,000-square foot store, which would be located on 24 acres in this suburb 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Plans for the store have sparked a fierce battle, with opponents complaining it will bring pollution, traffic and noise to the city and potentially drive out smaller businesses. Proponents say Rosemead can't afford to pass up the roughly 500 jobs it would create and the $300,000 in annual sales tax revenue it would generate.

The council first approved plans for the store last year, but they were held up when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered the project's environmental impact report be revised.

In the meantime, two council members who supported the proposal were voted out of office and two others were targeted for a recall campaign.

Wal-Mart opponents gathered enough petition signatures to order the recall vote targeting Mayor Jay Imperial and Councilman Gary Taylor, but it was put on hold after the city decided to go to court to challenge the petition-gathering process.

At Tuesday's meeting, some opponents challenged the validity of the new environmental impact report.

"How can anyone on this council trust this EIR or the promises of the Wal-Mart corporation?'' asked state Assemblywoman Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, who represents the area.

The council's two newest members, John Nunez and John Tran, asked for more time to review the report but were voted down.

The debate represents the latest fight pitting Southern California community activist groups against the retail giant. Last April, Inglewood voters overwhelmingly defeated a measure placed on the ballot by Wal-Mart that would have allowed a new development in that city without an environmental review or public hearing.

Monterey County Herald, December 15, 2005

Wal-Mart Comes To Rosemead

(CBS) ROSEMEAD, Calif. The Rosemead City Council has approved a Wal-Mart Supercenter after considering testimony in favor of and against the project.

The action was taken last night on a 3-2 vote, according to a published report. It was the second time the issue had gone before the council. Those in favor of the Wal-Mart said the project would add 500 jobs and an estimated $300,000 a year in sales tax.

In April, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ordered changes to an environmental study that was used by the council last year to approve the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

The revised environmental impact report before the council last night showed changes to an analysis of 24-hour operations and a review of potential alternative sites.

Mayor Jay Imperial, Councilman Gary Taylor and Councilwoman Margaret Clark voted in favor of the retailer, while Councilmen John Nunez and John Tran voted against.

cbs2.com, December 14, 2005

Rosemead recall will go to ballot

Jason Kosareff, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD -- Enough signatures have been verified to start a recall election against two councilmen, the city clerk said Tuesday.

The recall campaign targets Mayor Jay Imperial and Councilman Gary Taylor for their staunch support and votes in favor of a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter development on 24 acres at Walnut Grove Avenue and Rush Street.

Imperial and Taylor did not return calls for comment Tuesday. A Wal-Mart spokesperson also did not return calls for comment.

City Clerk Nancy Valderrama would not release the exact number of signatures the county found qualified for the ballot, saying the petition had yet to be returned to the city.

"We would like to have some time to look them over, just for our own sake,' Valderrama said.

Recall supporters say 4,076 signatures were verified in the effort to unseat Imperial, along with 4,097 signatures against Taylor. At least 3,653 signatures are needed to put the recall on the ballot.

The council will meet Tuesday to consider a date for the recall election.

Both sides have been campaigning in the weeks leading up to the verification of the signatures.

Lee Ann Dalessio, executive director of the Rosemead Chamber of Commerce, said the Wal-Mart has been building goodwill nationally with its efforts to support victims of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast states, which could factor into the Rosemead election.

"It's really going to help them along the way to let people know they're not trying to run people out of town and take business from other people,' Dalessio said. "They're really showing they are here to stay.'

Councilman John Tran, City Hall's most vocal supporter of a recall, said the number of signatures makes a statement.

"I hope that Jay Imperial and Gary Taylor read the handwriting on the wall and graciously accept the people's mandate by stepping down,' he said.

Tran said the city could avoid the roughly $35,000 cost of a recall election if Imperial and Taylor resigned.

The recall campaign could be a replay of the March election, which saw two incumbents unseated for Wal-Mart foes Tran and John Nunez.

Wal-Mart spent $23,631 in that election. Wal-Mart supporters Bill Alarcon and Joe Vasquez were defeated. But Councilwoman Margaret Clark also a Wal-Mart supporter retained her seat.

Labor unions strongly backed Tran, Nunez and write-in candidate Polly Low, spending a total of $16,794. The financial figures come from campaign statements filed by candidates Feb. 19.

Low said she has not yet decided whether she will run for a seat in the recall campaign, though she did work on the recall petition drive.

"I still want to give myself some time and talk to a few people,' Low said. "But the support is there.'

Low garnered 1,796 votes in March to Clark's 2,106.

Wal-Mart foes also won a victory against the retailer in July when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ordered a halt to the project. The company and City Hall must fix environmental impact documents to reflect traffic and pollution the project would create, the judge said.

Pasadena Star-News, September 20, 2005

Do We Buy It?

By Wendy Leung

After city officials voted to let Wal-Mart build a 24-hour Supercenter, voters spoke out by throwing a rising sentiment against giant retailer Wal-Mart, gaining some unlikely leaders from California's APA community.

In the Southern California city of Rosemead, residents raised their voices of opposition and threw their support behind John Tran. In the March city council election, Tran, a Vietnamese American, won the most votes in the city's history and became the first Asian American-elected official in Rosemead. John Nunez, another Wal-Mart opponent, also won a council seat.

Now some Wal-Mart protesters are upping the ante. A local grassroots group called Save Our Community is gathering signatures to recall two council members who voted in the majority to let Wal-Mart build a 24-hour 215,000-square foot Supercenter in the predominantly Asian and Latino area.

Tran is backing the recall effort against his fellow council members.

"I think Wal-mart has a history of coming into a city with a big box mentality that destroys communities and neighborhoods," he said.

Tran is worried that the presence of a retail behemoth would eventually swallow up local businesses, many of which are owned by Asian immigrants. According to the 2000 Census, half of Rosemead's residents are of Asian descent.

Larry Bevington, chairman of Save Our Community, said Tran's entry into the city council really helps spread the word in the small business community.

"This is where John Tran has done a great job," said Bevington.

And other Asian-elected officials are also garnering voter support with their stance against the nation's largest discount retailer.

Oakland Assemblywoman Wilma Chan has voiced her concerns over a planned Supercenter in East Oakland, fearing that Wal-Mart employees will have inadequate health care and that local businesses will suffer.

"Wal-Mart coming certainly could have a serious, negative impact on small businesses owned by Asian immigrants here," said Rachel Richman, Chan's chief of staff.

Assemblywoman Judy Chu, whose district includes Rosemead, has joined Tran in standing up against Wal-Mart. Chu said she normally wouldn't support recall elections unless corruption is involved.

"But I can understand why they're doing it," said Chu. "They are at their wits' end."

Jay Imperial, one of the councilmen on the recall petition, said attacks on him aren't so much about Wal-Mart. "It's personal and it's political," he said.

The 27-year veteran of the city council thinks Rosemead has a good selection of Asian markets but needs the variety that a Supercenter would provide.

"The average citizen is supporting it," Imperial said. "People are always asking me when Wal-Mart is coming."

Lack of jobs is also one of Imperial's concerns and he believes Wal-Mart would bring tax money to Rosemead. The Supercenter is expected to increase the city's annual sales tax earnings by $640,000 and provide hundreds of desperately needed jobs.

Just 12 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, Rosemead has one of the highest poverty rates among Asian and Pacific Islanders: 25 percent live in poverty compared to the county rate of 18 percent.

But Wal-Mart jobs are not the kind that Rosemead needs, said Sen. Gloria Romero.

"From a state standpoint, I'm concerned with the issue of health care," said Romero. "Wal-Mart will not provide adequate health care so employees will apply for state assistance when Wal-Mart should be providing it."

At the UCLA labor center, project director Victor Narro thinks Wal-Mart can cut a lot of corners because it picks communities that needs jobs, like Rosemead. "Wal-Mart's strategy is to develop in low income communities and communities of color by offering more discount rate goods and jobs," he said. "But having a Wal-Mart doesn't really address issues of poverty."

Save Our Community has until Sep. 8 to get the 3,650 signatures needed to put the recall on next year's ballot. They are over 60 percent of the way to their goal.

Whatever becomes of the recall efforts, Wal-Mart's fate is unclear in Rosemead. Earlier this month, a Los Angeles judge ruled that the retail giant needed to redo its environmental impact report. It was a victory for Save Our Community and one that Sen. Romero said shows the city council doesn't understand the issue.

"The city council is buying into what Wal-Mart is saying. It's an economic incentive for them, a quick fix," she said. "They think with Wal-Mart all the problems will be over but I don't think so."

Asian Weekly, July 22, 2005
See article here

Garvey vacancy to wait for election

Jason Kosareff, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD -- The Garvey School District board of education will hold a November election to fill the seat left by John Tran when he joined the Rosemead City Council.

Board members Henry Lo and Bob Bruesch said there was considerable pressure from various interest groups to appoint Tran's replacement, but after lengthy discussion the board voted 4-0 to fill the seat in a regularly scheduled election.

Several candidates are reportedly interested in running this November. Four of the five seats are open, which should make for a hotly contested election with every vote critical.

But what makes a Garvey election really interesting is its relevance to regional politics.

"Often times I think people look at Garvey school board as a stepping stone for higher office,' Lo said.

The Garvey school board has produced the likes of Assemblywoman Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park; former Assemblywoman Diane Martinez; Monterey Park Councilman David Lau; and Rosemead City Councilmen Tran and John Nunez.

"Everyone is going to be looking at this race trying to find candidates who are there for children, but sometimes you get outsiders who think of Garvey School District as a stepping stone,' Tran said.

The incumbents in the Nov. 8 election are Bruesch, Irene Flores and Robert Yuen.

Former board members Anthony Wong and Loretta Gonzalez are names that frequently come up as potential challengers in November, along with Irma Corza, chair of the district's Head Start Policy Committee.

Wong said on Friday that he hasn't decided whether he will run. Gonzalez and Corza could not be reached Friday.

Candidates have until late August to file election forms. While no candidate has filed this early in the race, fund raising and campaigning is quietly under way.

Board president Bob Bruesch said the tone of this election may be set by other elections going on around it.

If a recall of two Rosemead City Council members is put before voters in November it might have an influence in the Garvey race, likewise if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger places contentious initiatives on the ballot, Bruesch said.

How candidates stand on a Wal-Mart Super Center planned for Walnut Grove Avenue and Rush Street might also affect how they do in November, Tran said. But, unlike the council election in March, the retailer might have to take a backseat to other issues.

Declining enrollment and a balanced budget will likely dominate political debate, Tran said.

Pasadena Star-News, May 28, 2005

COPE-Endorsed Candidates Sweep Elections

COPE-endorsed Candidates Sweep Seats in Small Cities -- On behalf of the Los Angeles County Federation and its 340 affiliates, we congratulate COPE-endorsed candidates who swept municipal elections in Azusa, Bell Gardens, Carson, Rosemead, South Gate and San Fernando on March 8.

John Tran and John Nunez were the top vote getters in Rosemead, ousting decade-old incumbents on the City Council. Write-in-Candidate Polly Low came in fourth, 230 votes behind Margaret Clark, a 20-year incumbent.

"Rosemead's efforts help send a message to councilmembers who voted in favor of a Wal-Mart supercenter in our area despite strong community opposition," said Ron Gay from 'Save Our Community' Coalition. "Voters appreciate the help they received from all the unions in mobilizing the community to come out and vote in record numbers."

"It's great to see the L.A. County Fed supporting elections in smaller cities to encourage our future leaders to represent working families' issues," said Cheryl Parisi, president AFSME DC 36.

LA Union On the Move, March 31, 2005

New council members serve on school boards

by Cindy Chang, Staff Writer

ALHAMBRA, CA -- John Tran and John Nunez were both elected to the Rosemead City Council earlier this month on an anti-Wal-Mart platform. Both currently serve on local school boards, Tran in Garvey and Nunez in Alhambra.

While Nunez is stepping down from his school board duties Monday, Tran plans to stay on the Garvey panel until July, when budget deliberations are finished. The seat would remain vacant until the next regularly scheduled elections in November.

Tran says he foresees no conflict of interest in holding both offices concurrently. But an opinion from the California Attorney General's Office appears to prohibit an individual from serving on a city council and school board at the same time.

"Clearly, I would never compromise my duties as a public representative. Because of the part- time nature of the school board role, I will have no problem meeting the needs of my valued Rosemead residents,' Tran said in a prepared statement.

Tran called the attorney general's opinion "outdated' and said that it does not "draw the weight of the law.'

The 1990 opinion by then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp permitted a lawsuit against a politician who attempted to retain his seat on the Bassett school board after he was elected to the La Puente City Council. The public has "an interest in the undivided loyalty of their elected officers," Van de Kamp said in the opinion.

"Obviously, a school board member may want money from a city, or a service from a city, and the city has to balance that against other interests,"

The Alhambra school district is accepting applications to fill Nunez's seat. Applicants must be 18 years or older, registered to vote, and live within the Fifth District, which includes parts of Rosemead, Monterey Park and South San Gabriel.

The four remaining board members will interview the applicants and choose a new colleague at a public meeting on April 19 at 6 p.m. The new member will serve until Nunez's term expires in November 2006.

During most of Nunez's tenure, the school board was bitterly divided between two factions, with Nunez trying to straddle the fence between the groups. Now, all four members are political allies, and the board is expected to avoid the rancor that surrounded the Alhambra City Council's unsuccessful attempt to appoint an interim member last year.

Pasadena Star-News, March 19, 2005

APAs Win in SoCal

Asian Pacific American politicians continued to build their ranks from the bottom up with important election-night victories in Southern California earlier this month. Riding the wave of an anti-Wal-Mart movement in Rosemead, incumbent fever in Monterey Park, and bare-fisted campaigning in Redondo Beach and Los Angeles, the areas' APA campaigns focused on widely different tactics, policies and themes to advance.

The toughest races are not yet over. In the race for City Council in Los Angeles' District 11, Flora Gil Krisiloff came in a close second with 41 percent of the vote and forced a May 17 runoff with Bill Rosendahl.

Krisiloff, who is three-quarters Chinese and one-quarter Costa Rican, immigrated with her parents at the age of 11, the entire family speaking no English. She has been a community activist for 20 years and has the endorsement of incumbent Cindy Miscikowski, who is being termed out.

Rosendahl, however, a former cable company executive, is better funded and backed by the majority of the political establishment. He has been criticized by Krisiloff over conflict-of-interest issues; Rosendahl served as both a lobbyist and host of a station's local political talk show.

District 11 represents Westchester and LAX, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, and Venice.

One of the late issues in the race was an implication made by Rosendahl that Krisiloff was anti-gay. Rosendahl is gay and claims that should not be an issue.

Meanwhile in Redondo Beach, former City Councilman Mike Gin came in first but will face a runoff on May 10 for mayor. Gin is gay and a Republican, but neither fact has been an issue in his race.

Rosemead City Council

John Tran


Occupation: President of Garvey School District Board and a real estate agent.

Age: 29

Family: Divorced with two children, Joshua, 10, and Andre, 5.

Tran was one of two challengers winning City Council seats on a wave of anti-Wal-Mart sentiment. Unions bankrolled a grassroots campaign that also included write-in candidate Polly Low, who won more votes than two incumbents but could not attain the third seat up for election.

City of Rosemead

Write-in candidate for City Council

Polly Low

Occupation: Software manager for Raytheon Corp.

Age: 43

Family: Married to Ving Low; three kids: Kevin, 12, Matthew, 11, and Kristi, 8.

She garnered 1,796 votes (not including provisional ballots)....

Asian Weekly, March 18, 2005
See article here

In Rosemead, a wake-up call for Wal-Mart friendly officials

by Howard Fine

OPPONENTS of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s expansion into the area are pointing to the grass-roots campaign that ousted two Rosemead City Council members last week as a blueprint for keeping the retail giant out.

Wal-Mart last year received unanimous approval from the five-member Rosemead City Council for construction of a 230,000-square-foot Supercenter, and two of the three members up for reelection last week were turned out by voters.

"The election was in many ways a referendum on Wal-Mart," said Roxana Tynan, director of accountable development for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, which advised anti-Wal-Mart candidates. "It's an indication to politicians that Wal-Mart can be very unpopular. Those other municipalities should really understand what they are getting into."

Such backlashes over a single issue are common, particularly in smaller cities, said Raphael Sonenshein, a political science professor at California State University, Fullerton. They can also backfire.

"These insurgencies can bring unskilled officials who are one-issue people that don't know what they are doing," said Sonenshein.

That said, there are times such a groundswell can propel "some of the finest public servants who ride a wave of discontent over one issue into the start of their career," he said.

One such outcome was the candidacy of Marvin Braude, who won an L.A. City Council seat in 1965 based on Westside residents' fear that the Santa Monica Mountains would be over-developed. He wound up becoming a legendary figure in L.A. politics, serving on the council for 32 years.

The Rosemead election may in the end prove a Pyrrhic victory for Wal-Mart opponents. The approvals cannot be rescinded legislatively; the only hope now is in the courts, where a pending lawsuit questions the validity of the company's environmental impact report.

"The City Council majority still supports the project," said Peter Kanelos, a Wal-Mart spokesman. "But anyway, it's irrelevant because we already have our entitlements. The election has no impact and quite frankly, for the unions to claim victory is ludicrous."

John Tran, one of the candidates swept into office by running against the Wal-Mart approvals, said he plans to meet with the City Attorney's Office to "find some loophole" in Wal-Mart's approvals.

With the outcome of the vote, he said he hopes at least one of the three remaining councilmembers that originally supported Wal-Mart will change his or her mind. If not, Tran said, the voters will be given another chance to express their discontent.

"If we can get one City Council member on board, we would have an opportunity to stop the development," said Tran. "If they don't want to support this, let's do a recall on the other councilmembers."

Los Angeles Business Journal, March 14, 2005

Community in transition

By Jason Kosareff, Staff Writer

ROSEMEAD -- Wal- Mart could make a watershed change in the political landscape of Rosemead. In the months leading up to the council vote on a proposed Wal- Mart, a new crop of activists emerged, new alliances were formed, new enemies made and old rivalries exacerbated in this community of 53,000.

The 24-acre Wal-Mart development approved unanimously by the City Council on Wednesday galvanized many in the southern part of Rosemead who were against it. The project would be located on Walnut Grove and Rush Street, bordered by residential Delta Avenue on the west.

"The sleeping giant has been woken up,' said John Tran, a southern Rosemead resident and City Council candidate.

Southern Rosemead, the two- thirds of the city sprawling south of the San Bernardino [10] Freeway, is traditionally not a force in city politics, but could be a major factor in the March council elections.

Three candidates have come out of south Rosemead this election season. If they win, it would be the first time south Rosemead residents make up a majority on the council. They are John Brady, who is leading a recall campaign against three council members; John Tran, president of the Garvey School District Board; and John Nunez, president of the Alhambra Unified School District.

They are challenging incumbents William Alarcon, Margaret Clark and Joe Vasquez.

Southern Rosemead residents typically do not turn out at the polls to vote, said former Mayor Bob Bruesch.

"They have never really participated in Rosemead, because they look south [to Montebello], not north,' Bruesch said.

Bruesch added that support for the Wal-Mart comes mainly from low-income and senior citizen residents who would benefit from low-priced goods. About 23 percent of Rosemead residents live in poverty, according to the Institute for the Study of Poverty and Homelessness.

Middle-class residents typically were against the retailer, Bruesch added.

Bruesch did not take a public stance on Wal-Mart, abstaining from a Garvey School Board resolution against the retailer.

While no formal polls were conducted, Wal-Mart opposition group Save Our Community claims about 300 members, while Wal-Mart itself collected about 400 cards in support of the retailer.

Nunez said past City Councils rarely reached out to southern residents.

"Rosemead has never really looked at the city as a whole,' Nunez said. "The city does a lot of things up there [north] because they're looking at their base, their base is up there.'

Councilman Jay Imperial disagrees, saying the division between north and south is political fiction.

"They're trying to make an issue that's not there,' Imperial said.

Assistant City Manager Don Wagner said City Hall spends more money in southern Rosemead, because it is larger than the area north of the freeway, has more streets and is designated a redevelopment zone. Southern Rosemead has a community center, senior housing complex and a sheriff's substation.

State Sen. Gloria Romero, D- East Los Angeles, said she is disappointed by the council's approval of the retailer, which she criticizes as an exploiter of poor and senior workers. She added the project was rushed and poorly designed.

While Romero would not say the council has made an enemy out of her, she did say the council is not high in her esteem.

"To me it's not personal,' Romero said. "I am greatly disappointed in the leadership of this council.'

Romero said she will endorse candidates in the upcoming election fight.

Wal-Mart does make contributions to political campaigns, but spokesman Pete Kanelos would not say if the company will help the incumbent council.

The council has typically enjoyed strong support from the community.

Clark has not been challenged in the last two elections, and Imperial and Gary Taylor have been on the council more than 20 years.

Bruesch, who also served more than 20 years until he retired in 2003, said he would be surprised to see incumbents win the election across the board.

"This is just like 25 years ago, when the founding fathers of Rosemead got their comeuppance with the new breed of community activists,' Bruesch said. "Well, we're going to see another watershed right now. For the health of the body politic, for the health of the community, newness is not bad.'

Pasadena Star News, September 13, 2004

For more articles regarding the City of Rosemead, see Rosemead-Info.4t.com and Rosemead-Info.4t.com/page2.html.

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