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Candidates Forum: Tom Adams

City Council candidates respond to readers' questions about the upcoming municipal election.

This is the third installment of our Patch City Council Candidates Forum. The five candidates for office in the April 12 municipal elections responded to questions submitted by readers and the Patch editor. A different candidate's answers will be posted each day this week. Jason Cosylion's responses and Mary Ann Lutz's .

1. Please tell us about yourself and why you should be elected or reelected to represent the people of Monrovia.

I think my tenure on the council gives me the experience to deal with the upcoming issues, particularly the state issues, well. I have seen the council go through some pretty tough times in the early 1990s when we had to cut some programs severely. I have also seen the good times and the growth in programming that needs to be trimmed. Experience that can help us through these times is priceless. My business experience adds to that strength.

 2. How will the Gold Line benefit the city, and what should be done to best take advantage of it when it finally arrives?

The Gold Line is the future. It may not be the number one source of transportation for my generation but it will for the next and we need to rethink how we move people. Four dollar gas will change our lives, we must be ready for that. But this needs to not just be a train station. There must be something else. Bringing in light business and residences will round out the area.

3. If you had sole authority and responsibility to create a very lean budget for Monrovia, briefly tell us what items you would definitely keep, and what you would definitely cut. (Submitted by reader Charlotte Schamadan)

If I had my magic wand and needed to make some serious cuts I would look to our past. Local government has changed so much over the years supplying people with, in some cases, almost every conceivable service there is. If you go back when most of our area was first occupied the citizens had fewer requests and they started with public safety. Without public safety nothing else really matters. So, we insure that our police and fire protection are adequate and once they are move out to our water and sewer systems. Public safety and clean water are paramount. Once we have the necessities in place then we look for the other services such as parks, library and other community services. As for definite cuts, I think if we do the right thing we can maintain all of our current services with perhaps some of them trimmed back to meet the demand of the times.

 4. What's your take on building a park on the south side or the idea of naming it after a local Latino? (Submitted by reader Ralph Walker)

I believe that a park below Huntington Drive is important. When I grew up there was a vacant lot in each block. Kids need room to play and if they don't get that room they will find room in the street and what they end up doing may not be in anyone's best interest. As for naming a park after a Latino, I was proud to have moved that the council do just that. Latinos have played an important role in Monrovia for its 125 years that we will celebrate soon yet there is no acknowledgement of their contributions. I think Monrovia has done well to insure that all members of the community have a vested right in the community, this just takes it up a notch.

 5. What is your position on a tiered system of retirement benefits for city employees? How do you propose bringing the benefits in line with what the city can afford while maintaining competitive standards among "like" cities? Do you believe that Police/Fire should have a different retirement benefit than other City employees? (Submitted by reader Nancy Matthews)

I think we all know that the benefit package that is currently offered, not just in Monrovia but statewide, is no longer a viable solution. We must look at an alternative for the future and still maintain the promise that we made to our employees. All employers need to be competitive or you can't hire the best. There are some other solutions that will maintain the rights of the employees and still keep the city in a sound economic position. The difference between safety and non safety positions has always been rooted in the fact that people who are out in the streets working night shifts, getting into fights with criminals, fighting fires and working traffic accidents tend to have their bodies age differently than someone sitting at a desk. The differences need to be monitored in the future to insure that we stay on course.

 6. How will the proposed elimination of redevelopment agencies affect Monrovia in the short term and long term?

Redevelopment has brought Monrovia from a city that many would not visit to one that others want to copy. Most of the residents that have moved here in the past 15 or so years may not have moved here 30 years ago, it has changed that much. Redevelopment has been a great tool here yet abused in other areas but I don't think the state will take away that which improves lives and creates jobs. If the state takes redevelopment away I think that Monrovia will continue to do what it does better than any city I know of, attract good companies to move to Monrovia by doing things smarter and more cost effective. Employers more here for a variety of reasons and Monrovia understands that more than most. Whatever the future holds, Monrovia will shine.  

 7. How are you going to fight voter apathy in Monrovia? Why is voter turnout usually so low? (Submitted by reader Ralph Walker)

Voter apathy is and interesting subject. I have looked at the past 35 years and the greatest turnout in numbers and percentages in a Monrovia Municipal Election was April of 1994. There were some 8 candidates for council at that time and the contest was spirited. I haven't seen an election since then that brought out the number of candidates nor the campaigning seen then. You might say that happy people vote less than angry people. Taking a look around the world the turnout is highest in countries where people are dying to vote. As for me, I am mailing thousands of mailers out asking people to remember to vote along with hundreds of yard signs. Once you have hundreds of yard signs, thousands of mailers, 3 or 4 candidate forums, interviews and write ups in the news I think you have done all you can. The rest is up to the will of the people.

 8. What is your governing philosophy, and who are your political mentors/heroes? (Submitted by reader Charlotte Schamadan)

My governing policy is based on California General Law. Our positions are meant to be part time. The council is supposed to hire a good manager who then hires good people. We act, if you will, as the board of directors for your investment. Each of you are the stockholders. Teddy Roosevelt said, "Be smart enough to hire good people and have sense enough to get out of their way" and I think this is a good way to conduct ourselves on the council.

 9. The City Council has long been characterized by a spirit of cooperation. What about Monrovia has made the council so tightly knit, and should such a political atmosphere continue?

The spirit of cooperation is a good tool in Monrovia and has been here for years. I do find it interesting how many people think we never vote different when that couldn't be further from the truth. Statistically we vote together a lot, voting to pay payroll, trim trees, pave streets and keep the water flowing, all things that few would be against. There are five people on the council with five different sets of eyes and five view points. From time to time those differences rise up and the community gets to see the other side of the council. Both are good and have served Monrovia well for some time.

 10. What can you do to make Monrovia a better place? (Submitted by reader Debbie Elliott)

Making Monrovia a better place is a very broad question but I think raising the level of service. When the day is done that is all we have, service. That is why it is called public service. From time to time that level drops due to a variety of issues but diligence will keep it high, a level we can all be proud of.

JJWHIRRR March 31, 2011 at 03:42 PM
Ok Tom, well here are some questions for you: Do you support the cutting of medical and dental for elected officials? Do you support the cutting of In Lieu of Medical payouts for employees who choose not to utilize the benefit offered? Do you support cutting out fuel allowances for public employees? If public employees need to be reimbursed for travel, can't they simply submit expense reports? Do you support reducing the amount of Paid time off for Public employees? Do you feel the 10 weeks of paid time off is excessive?
sayitisntso April 01, 2011 at 03:41 PM
Come on Tom, Those are great questions. I would like to read your answers and I think many others here would also. It's time to step up and be counted.
JJWHIRRR April 01, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Tom, When can we expect some answers?
Gem City Dude Man April 01, 2011 at 04:48 PM
I would like to know if the city council has ever thought of using part of the wilderness reserve as a community garden project? There is one area that was used by the Rosedales years ago for their growing grounds, so there is a history there. Looking at the big picture I believe each community needs to create their own support systems to become more self reliant. Community gardens would help in so many ways. During these desperate economic times food is an absolute necessity. We have all the resources to get started. We just need some leadership and cooperation.
LASPULGASGUNNER April 01, 2011 at 06:07 PM
I would like to know if the City Council has ever thought of using part of the wilderness preserve as a rifle and pistol shooting range ? Looking at the big picture I believe each community needs a well armed citizenry of marksmen to be more self reliant and not depending on the government to protect them and their families. A community shooting range would help in many ways. In these desperate economic times, being well armed and capable of taking down the bad guy with one well aimed shot is absolute necessity. We all have the resources to get started. We just need some leadership and cooperation and Scott Ochoa to apply for a ten million dollar federal grant to construct the shooting range.
Gem City Dude Man April 01, 2011 at 07:05 PM
There is one. It is behind Saw Pit. We just have to get the police dept. to let the public use it. Dude, what is with the sarcasm?
sayitisntso April 01, 2011 at 07:13 PM
I'll volunteer to be the Range Master and Armorer for the Monrovia Minuteman Range. Maybe we can get some instructors from Gunsite to teach Combat Shotgun and Urban Street Sweeping. We could sponsor a weekly "Open Carry" group in Monrovia.
sayitisntso April 01, 2011 at 07:20 PM
Dude, I see no sarcasm, just good humor, which you might want to develop.
JJWHIRRR April 01, 2011 at 07:39 PM
Tom, still no response to my questions? In response to your last comment "There is always room to cut." It is obvious there is always room to cut. The real question is why haven't there been any cuts to the egregious benefits paid to the Cit Staff and Council? The only cuts have been to our services. Please Tom, when can we expect to see these cuts?
Gem City Dude Man April 01, 2011 at 08:43 PM
What ever happened to the city rule that required our city officials to actually live in the town they serve and work in. It should be mandatory the Police and Fire Chiefs , members of the planning department, etc. live in Monrovia. I would have a lot more confidence in their leadership decisions if I knew they had a real stake in OUR town.
Tom Adams April 01, 2011 at 09:58 PM
Gem City Dude Man, the law requires that all of the council live in town and we do. The City Manager lives in town but it is my understanding that the law does not allow mandatory requirements for residency.
Gem City Dude Man April 01, 2011 at 10:40 PM
It was my understanding years ago city officials were required to live in town. Obviously that is not the case now. I personally feel that the top flight leadership should live in town. I think there is more commitment, understanding and personal feedback the leadership would get by living here. When the police and fire chief live in town, besides getting more feedback from their now neighbors, they get a different perspective of how their departments look in the field when they are off duty. I'm sure a lot of Monrovians would like to tell Chief Johnson about the unethical practice of shifting the police department's resources toward giving traffic tickets as a way to generate city revenue rather than concentrating their efforts on felonies. But as I have heard one city official say, "There is no money in felonies. Speaking of Chief Johnson. Has it become standard practice to reward top city managers with an extra paycheck when they decide to retire? It is my understanding quite a few of our past city officials were rewarded with extra pay as they continued to be on the city's payroll after they were officially retired. Don Hopper comes to mind.
sayitisntso April 01, 2011 at 11:04 PM
The million dollar golden handshakes were only given to keep a few sacred cows from the threatened extension of the calpers retirement age. We have people who were retired out early still double dipping with the calpers DROP program. We are still paying for the cell phones of retired people in the city.
Tom Adams April 01, 2011 at 11:59 PM
As much as I would love to have them all live here we just can't. As for the police resources, I can assure you that we haven't pressed for more traffic enforcement for money, there just isn't enough to Monrovia to make a difference. I can tell you that there is no money in felonies or traffic, other than making Monrovia safer. As for the "Extra" paycheck, no one gets an "Extra" paycheck when they retire. Some folks, from the bottom to the top, receive unused vacation pay.
Lori Snyder April 02, 2011 at 12:28 AM
I sent him an email to the email address listed on the Monrovia city website asking the same question about the health care benefits taken by the council when the accusations first started to fly. He said with all due respect I did not know what I was talking about. When I pressed him about it he sent a email to my work address saying I was engaging in political propaganda - too bad for him I own the company. This guy is nothing but a bully. Everyone is wrong but him. The websites from the state, the LA Times, he is the only one that seems to know it all. We really need to think about term limits - until those take place I urge all Monrovia voters to elect a new council member. A few more terms for this guy and he will have his 2.7% PERS at 30 years. I checked around and Covina does not take health benefits and most other cities are at 2.5% PERS. We are being abused with the padded benefits on all levels in Monrovia.
Lori Snyder April 02, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Write your legislators and force the issue from the top down. These clowns are never going to pledge not to take the benefits. They feel they are entitled to them. It is not about service to your community anymore. Everyone needs to write Sacramento and ask that legislation be brought forth that stops city councils from taking benefits of any kind. The Tribune published the same views this past week and the momentum to curtail this stuff is picking up steam quickly. Force them at the Candidate forums to answer if they will be taking the benefits or money for them. Let them go on record and then let the voters decide. To make the voters aware what is going on, write, email or contact the reporters like Patrick McGreevey, Steve Lopez, George Skelton at the Times and the Tribune political staff of Thomas, Steve and Daniel and let them know that Monrovia council are taking in lieu of health care money. It is a disgrace.
Tom Adams April 02, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Lori, thanks for the comments. My retirement is vested already as I am 60 years old. It seems we have a different memory on your emails so I will leave it at that.
JJWHIRRR April 02, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Hey Tom, you forgot to mention that the only reason Scott Ochoa live here is because the City of Monrovia made a sub prime loan to him. It’s a 30 year, 2nd trust deed on a zero down home purchase. Here’s the catch…The City Council approved the terms just mentioned, however, the actual loan only requires a 2% per annum payment! What this means is instead of having a monthly loan payment of 1,476.26, he is only paying $458.33. No interest or penalties will be accrued on the difference. This shortfall amounts to $484,254.31 over 30 years using 5% interest.
JJWHIRRR April 02, 2011 at 01:03 AM
Tom, I am still waiting for answers to my questions: Do you support the cutting of medical and dental for elected officials? Do you support the cutting of In Lieu of Medical payouts for employees who choose not to utilize the benefit offered? Do you support cutting out fuel allowances for public employees? If public employees need to be reimbursed for travel, can't they simply submit expense reports? Do you support reducing the amount of Paid time off for Public employees? Do you feel the 10 weeks of paid time off is excessive?
Tom Adams April 02, 2011 at 01:07 AM
If anyone wants to know why Lori's emails are not answered just look at the name calling. I hope for a day when we can all ask questions without anger and while using our own names. It is the posting above that leads most elected people to not answer any postings. So , we can learn to discuss things as adults or this type of posting can be left alone.
JJWHIRRR April 02, 2011 at 01:40 AM
Tom, I have not called you any names, so why haven't answered my questions?
Gem City Dude Man April 02, 2011 at 01:55 AM
I guess I need to be more specific to get the point across. There is a past and present practice that when city managers retire they are allowed to return as annuitants. As annuitants they receive their retirement check as well as a check at their old pay rate for the current work they do. Usually until a replacement is found. Two specific questions arise as to why this is necessary? The first is why hasn't the city done its job in training a second in command,etc. to take over the duties? There are many reasons why the chain of command must be prepared to assume the duties of their boss when and if the time comes. Second, if the first question is answered by the city management as yes we provide the training and we have confidence in the chain of command then it looks as though the city management is engaging itself in chonism by paying off the retired manager for no apparent reason other than city government has not done its job and is either incompetent or dishonest or both. The fact is has been done in the past and is currently happening now. It has also been reported managers are given a cash payout for their unused sick time. Amounting to as much as 50K.
jayzable April 02, 2011 at 03:14 AM
Your dodging the questions by trying to distract us with Lori. Lori did not say anything the San Gabriel Tribune did not say and what everyone on this forum and all Monrovia voters really want to know. I agree with her that we need to demand the laws be changed so this benefit padding cannot take place. We have many areas this money can be used to benefit the city and the taxpayers of this city. What about the admin time? Have you done away with that yet or will we be writing the city manager a big old check like Mr. Jeffers got in Monterey Park? The Tribune says he got 495,000 dollars. WOW public service pays well. I hear Glendora had to remove the admin time from his latest contract and the new police chief too because the voters went ballistic over it. Where do we stand on that issue???? Since you brought it up and have confessed you consider yourself retired at 60 and Medicare benefits do not kick in until 65, are we the taxpayers footing the bill for your health care until then? Also, everyone knows you don't have to collect retirement from PERS until you are retired from public service. Maybe you can get a few more years in. Why do we even have city council people in the retirement plan anyway? The questions are legitimate and we would like them answered. If you don't answer them we will implore the newspapers to help us answer them on their bigger public forum. These new public Q&A's are a real game changer aren't they?
Tom Adams April 03, 2011 at 06:25 PM
Gem City Dude Man, thanks for the post. First, at times there are no second in command waiting in the wings. Often we promote from within but at times it makes more sense to reach outside and see if a fresh new look might not be beneficial. We saw that with Police Chief Joe Santoro, a new set of eyes that saw room for improvement. There are never set rules as the need and the talent from within changes perioically. By the way, who got the payout of unused sick time in the amount of $50K? Just curious so I can check on it.
Gem City Dude Man April 04, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Someone in management as the story goes.
Tom Adams April 04, 2011 at 03:48 PM
Gem City Dude, this makes it almost impossible to track down a story when it is "someone". I hope the balance of my post made sense.
JJWHIRRR April 04, 2011 at 04:38 PM
Tom, still no response to my questions?
Steve Buckner April 04, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Tom Adams 7:30pm on Tuesday, February 8, 2011 (Quote) Tim, simply put, I brought this up in a meeting due to the numerous questions from the public. It is the only way for the public to know what happened, complete transparency. (Quote)
JJWHIRRR April 04, 2011 at 06:08 PM
Ok Tom, lets try this again: Do you support the cutting of medical and dental for elected officials? Do you support the cutting of In Lieu of Medical payouts for employees who choose not to utilize the benefit offered? Do you support cutting out fuel allowances for public employees? If public employees need to be reimbursed for travel, can't they simply submit expense reports? Do you support reducing the amount of Paid time off for Public employees? Do you feel the 10 weeks of paid time off is excessive? Just trying to find out where you stand on these issues.
LASPULGASGUNNER April 05, 2011 at 03:17 AM
Councilman Adams, since your the only sitting member on the City Council who have publicly been answering questions from your constituents, I have a question regarding the resurfacing of Huntington Dr. On October 19th, 2009 the City of Monrovia was awarded a $995,000 grant from the American tax payers under the biggest sham ever pulled on the American people, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. According to the documents I viewed, this particular grant was suppose to be used "to preserve and create jobs and economic recovery." Why did it take almost a year and a half before the City decided to use this money ? Shouldn't it have been used back in 2009 or early 2010 ? I wonder if any jobs were actually created or saved with the resurfacing of Huntington Dr. ? I doubt it. So far this government handout has cost the American tax payers well over one million dollars for every job that has been created or saved. Why should I worry ? It will be my grandchildren who will have to pay the tab on this one.

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