Last night ABC7 News had an interesting story reporting that a billboard posted by the Monrovia Police Officers Association was harming business in Monrovia. The story left out a lot of information and as such would lead one to believe what was reported had merit. They didn’t even report that Arcadia PD ran nearly the exact billboard this past summer and it barely raised an eyebrow in the area.
The Monrovia City Hall dispute with the MPOA is multi layered. Among the issues is that for the last 7-8 years the department has been understaffed. The level of under-staffing varies on your sources, is alleged to be between 4-12 officers at any given time. This has lead to mandatory double shifts to bring the police protection to minimum levels. A couple of sources, some outside MPD, and blog comments claim that basic policing such as visiting the parolees residing in town to ensure they have been fulfilling their parole obligations were suspended for a period of 6-7 months in early 2007 as there was not adequate staff.
Another area of concern that is continually raised is the low morale of the officers. Part of that low morale involves reported unfair treatment of officers. Although the city denies there is a morale issue, two officers, Solarez and Cobb successfully brought suits against the city for harassment based on race or sexual orientation. Eventually those suits were ultimately settled in their favor. I understand from comments on another blog from a credible ex-MPD source that another officer has a claim for similar allegations pending. The city manager trivializing the suits as a “cost of doing business” in a weekly report added to MPOA frustrations.
In terms of business in Monrovia, many have told me in recent weeks that their businesses are reporting a rebound since the spate of Murders in Monrovia that left 4 Dead one a paraplegic creating a lot of sorrow and a community gripped with fear.
Several opined that the billboard was ridiculous, but had not hurt their business. Others expressed outrage that the community reputation was besmirched. Others hoped that it did not backfire and harm the MPOA efforts to have their concerns heard by the community.
Overall business from my contacts has been down-trending the same as retail in general in LA and the nation. Several of my friends in department store management or specialty stores around the area opined that their individual stores were trending about the same as what is being reported by the Old Town Merchants.
Robert CJ Parry who writes at the FC Blog did the best recap yet of the issues at the core of the dispute in his post “Monrovia’s Issues, Consolidated” that ran yesterday. (More details after the jump).
Parry ties together posts regarding the contract dispute on salary of MPD officers, He outlines a blog troll flaming officers allegedly using a councilman’s business resources. And his final bit is on a housing loan given the city manager that is negatively amortized.
Among the observers watching the situation closely is Monrovia Blogger Cyrus Kemp and his blog Monrovia City Watch. He was among the signers of a petition for term limits and caps on city manager salary. MCW also put his analysis of the negatively amortized loan to the city manager he calls “a $163K gift at tax payers expense“.
The sudden media coverage of this dispute is rumored by some to be orchestrated by the city due to pressure by the Monrovia Old Town Advisory Board. It may have some merit as my friend Kate was party to a conversation of one business owner, a MOTAB member with another about “doing something about the billboard”. Further she reports that person’s plan was to discuss it at the next MOTAB meeting how they can force the city to do something about the billboard.
ABC7 reports that several of the merchants are planning a protest march in front of the MPD tonight. Right around the corner as many, if not more residents will be at city hall in support of the MPD officers asking that they be treated fairly and make the community safer.
Its all interesting to watch. It is small town politics escalating and becoming bigger news in the LA area. What we have is a squirting contest dividing the community. Some watching business dwindle with the overall economy and looking for a scapegoat. Others worrying whether the understaffed MPD will have a bigger impact.
PS Monrovia is celebrating its 122 years as a community with the Monrovia Day Parade on Myrtle Avenue at 9AM starting at the corner of Foothill/Myrtle moving south through Old Town.