Saturday, June 24, 2017

• Little League Challenger Division

Play Ball!
I've been around Little League since I was nine years old back in the 1970s. Played Little League until the age of 12, then Pony League, and some high school ball. I coached my kids' teams from 1993 through 2003 and never heard of the Challenger Division until this year, when Wildomar Little League was chosen as the host league for this year's Division 28 all-star games.
The players were introduced before the game, and gave high fives to VIPS at the center of the field before the game started. From left to right, WLL President Chad Hilzer, VFW Post 1508 Mike Sheehan, Wildomar City Councilmember Bridgette Moore and umpire Kenny Ballard.
Apologies upfront. I don't have the names of any of the players, and though about half the players were girls, I didn't get many photos of them. I wish I could have gotten good pictures of all the players, maybe next year. ☺
Taking the pitch for ball one... even though balls and strikes weren't counted.☺
The games are not like typical Little League games in that they are only two innings, where everyone bats and runs (even if they get out), and end up scoring too. 
Getting a few reminders before batting.
The local Challenger Division was started in Menefee six years ago. Two years ago it was decided to make the division district wide. 
A little assistance from player buddies on the way to first base.
Originally they had twelve players in the first season. It's grown to the point that this season there were 62 players. 
Some of the players needed more assistance than others.
Players are from all seven of the local Little Leagues in the area: Lake Elsinore, Temescal Canyon, Wildomar, Canyon Lake, Menifee, Murrieta and Temecula. 
Putting the ball in play with a runner on third.
There are some players that come from as far away as Moreno Valley, Hemet and from other areas too. The division is starting to grow with each successive season. 
Coming home to score.
They play an average of about twelve games a season. The games are two innings long and last about an hour. The foul lines aren't strictly enforced. A lot depends on the batter's ability. If they have a more difficult time hitting the ball, a lot more leeway is granted to them. Others, that are more confident with the bat, have more traditional foul lines.
Keeping his eye on the ball as he's about to take a swing.

They didn't keep track of balls and strikes, and the pitcher (one of the coaches) would adjust his style and distance depending on the batter. Sometimes he'd be just a few feet away while tossing the ball underhand. Other times he'd be back about twenty-five or thirty feet tossing the ball overhand.
Tossing the ball back in to the pitcher.
Some of the players hit the ball harder than others. For those that hit it back to the pitcher, he'd shovel it with his glove to get it to the fielders. 
The ball gets sent down the third base line.

There were "player buddies" on the field to help the kids keep focused, and to protect them from the occasional well struck ball.
This Angel hitter gets ready to swat this pitch.
A couple of balls got all the way to the outfield, and still the play was to first base. There were a few times that a solid fielding play was made on both ends of a grounder, but the runner remained on the base even if they would have been out in a game played by traditional rules. 
Bridgette Moore was one of the "player buddies" and was stationed out in right field.

During the season there were four teams, but for today's All-Star Game, they combined them into two teams so that the could play one game instead of two. It was the Angels vs. the Dodgers, perfect for SoCal teams.
Just before the moment of contact.

There is an older division and a younger division. 

The players are not separated by age only, but also by ability. Sometimes a younger player will be placed with the older kids if their skill level makes them a mismatch with the other players their age. It's as much about enjoying the experience as it is keeping the kids safe.
These two players were enjoying their time in the field. Their playful interaction reminded my of my son's little dances that he'd do during games when he was their age. ☺

While talking to Amy Frahn about the Challenger Division (she's Vice President of District 28 Challenger Division, and attached to Menifee Valley Little League) I asked her about the fees to play.
Gotta love wearing baseball pants old school. Reminds me of the time I'd forgotten my baseball pants at home, for a beer league game in 1999, and had to wear my 12 year old son's pants one game. 
She told me that there are no fees charged to play, and that they rely on their sponsors and donations to fund the division. All seven of the leagues in District 28 donate a portion of their registration fees to the Challenger Division.
The anticipation.
If you are so inspired as to want to sponsor the Challenger Division, or just donate some funds to it, be sure to contact them by email, or visit their FaceBook page LINKSuch donations are tax deductible. They are a non profit and have all the proper forms that you'll need.

BTW, you don't have to be a donor to visit their FaceBook page and give them a like. LINK 
I nominate this player for "best form". What pitcher wouldn't be intimidated by that serious look on his face? Watch out Corey Seager, this guy's gunning for your spot in the line up.

What an enjoyable game to be at. Sometimes baseball is just about fun, where pressure doesn't enter the picture. A misplayed grounder isn't a big deal, and the kids are all smiles after the game no matter how many runs actually were scored.
A group shot after the game.

CR&R, DeJongs Dairy and Caring Hearts helped sponsor today's game. 
•          •          •
The smile on my face doesn't mean my life is perfect. It means I appreciate what I have and what I've been blessed with. I choose to be happy.
– Unknown

Wildomar Rap has long understood that happiness is a choice. Circumstances can be dire or unpleasant at times, but they don't control a person's basic nature.

Friday, June 23, 2017

• Wildomar Rap Tip of the Day

Fellow Rotary member Allen Montemagno (the "G" is silent) tipped me off to a great bargain in town regarding a midday special at Yellow Basket. 

He was telling me that you could get fries and a shake for a dollar apiece, after lunch and before dinner. I was a bit skeptical, so I nodded with a glassy eyed look and thought nothing more of it.

I'm not usually the type to go to restaurants midweek at that time of day, but today my lovely wife Grace had the day off, and it just so happened to be about 2:00pm, and we were due for a snack.

I'm known for NOT being spontaneous, so imagine the shocked look on her face when I asked if she'd like to see if that special really existed. 
(Score one for Joseph!) ☺
This combo was $2.00, before Jerry Brown added another 16¢, which is still a bargain.
Lo and behold they did have a happy hour special. Fries, sodas and shakes all costing a dollar. We decided to go the cheap route and just get one order of fries and one chocolate shake to share.
Just the right amount to hit the spot when one is feeling a bit peckish.

For us, that was more than enough, though I could see the advantage of getting an order of fries per person if you wanted more than a midday snack. 

As usual, the counter help, and the person that brought the food to our table were very courteous and accommodating. If you've never been inside Yellow Basket, when you go, you have to check out the decor they have. You can tell that the owners have pride in their business.

When I was a kid I could easily have downed that shake myself in under 10 minutes, but now that I'm an old man, we couldn't even get through half of it as a team. 
(We took the rest home and put it in the freezer for a treat later in the evening).
Next time I bet she'll be bringing her Boba straw.

It was good tasting and very thick. We ended up using a spoon. Either bring your own larger capacity straw or be ready to take your sweet time with it... which is really the way a milkshake should be consumed anyway. 
They have chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and cinnamon flavors to choose from.

When we were about done I gave the waitress a Wildomar Rap card and told her that I was going to spread the word about their Happy Hour Special. A few moments later the owner, Tom Boussiacos, came out to say "Hi".

He remembered me from last year when Councilmember Bridgette Moore hosted Ashley Fox as Mayor for a Day, and I tagged along so that I could report on it.


Funny thing is, I'd just had two big spoonfuls of chocolate shake, and as we chatted —for a moment— my eyes started to water as I was fighting off a brain-freeze. 

Thankfully I managed to stave it off with dignity. ☺
Not saluting, just checking to see if my brain was still on board on the way out.

I'm not sure how long this special is going to last, but seems like a terrific Summer treat that you might want to give a try.

Hey, if you have bored kids in the middle of the afternoon and want to get them out of the house for a bit, seems like a no-brainer (if there was a pun in there, it was intended). ☺

If you don't know where Yellow Basket is, it's near Barons Market and Stadium Pizza on Clinton Keith. (32250 Clinton Keith Rd, Wildomar, CA 92595)

Just an FYI, this was just a fun blog, about a good deal, from a local business with a community minded owner. I wasn't compensated for this... but I'm thinking I could have made a pretty cool promotional video for YB if they wanted one.
•          •          •


They say some of my stars drink whiskey, but I have found that ones who drink milkshakes don't win many ball games.

– Casey Stengel


Wildomar Rap see's nothing wrong with compromising here by combining the two... but instead of whiskey, opt for vodka.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

• Coffee With Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez June 2017

The hardest working member of the California Assembly, our own Melissa Melendez, hosted one of her community coffees at The Corporate Room in Wildomar.
Part of her program is the Power to the People award that she presents to a member of the community that has done something outstanding. The man above has helped a WWII vet with day to day care and even to get new flooring and new roofing for his home. 

What I appreciate about her is that she is there for the people in her district. Not just those that might have voted for her, but all the citizens in her district.

She doesn't give speeches at her community coffees, she just gives an update and the format is very informal. People started chiming in with questions right away, and she was there to give answers, never looking to duck a topic.

This "legislative update" included conversations about bills she's introduced and where they are in the pipeline. 

One such bill was AB 27- Rape as a Violent Felony. Yes, it's hard to believe that this even needed to be brought before the legislature, but it was killed in Assembly Appropriations... again. Even though the cosponsor was a Dem.

The topic of California becoming a Sanctuary State came up, as did SB 1 and the effort to repeal it (that's the gas and car registration tax that will be adding a minimum of 12 cents per gallon in just another few months).

The scheme of universal healthcare for all Californians was batted around, and the attempts by the Democrats in Sacramento to protect embattled State Senator Josh Newman from a recall election (SB 96 - which has already passed).

Another topic that the audience enjoyed was AB 807 (Chu) which aimed at eliminating daylight savings time, not really a liberal v conservative issue, but it was recently killed too.
Nearly 100 people came to hear Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez speak.

Unless you're a unremitting partisan that can't play well with others, you're missing out if don't make your way to one of her community coffees. She usually holds them twice a month, once in the morning and once in the evening. 

We've been lucky to have her in Wildomar twice in the last couple of months, check out her website to get on her mailing list for future community coffees.


Her other contact information

Capitol Office
State Capitol, Suite #6031
Sacramento, CA 94249-0067
(916) 319-2067
(916) 319-2167 fax
Sam K. Spencer- Chief of Staff
Donda Scholl- Scheduler

Samantha Henson- Legislative Aide

MURRIETA OFFICE
41391 Kalmia Street, Suite #220
Murrieta, CA 92562
951-894-1232
951-894-5053 fax
Deni Horne- District Director
Branden Webb- Field Representative

•          •          •


"My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever."
– George R.R. Martin

Wildomar Rap had an old grandmother too, and she tried to warn against getting married before the age of 30... but did anyone listen to her sage advice? 

• Planning Commission Meeting June 2017

After more than three hours, the planning commission voted 3-2 on four resolutions that are "recommending" that the city council approve the Camelia Townhouse Project.

The meeting saw the biggest crowd that the current council chambers has seen. Even bigger than the State of the City speech which comes with free food and gifts. It was an overflow crowd where every chair was taken.
The back room was filled, while these two young Wildomar residents brought their own chairs.

The crowd size can be attributed to the buzz this project has gotten on Nextdoor.com, the residents of Grizzly Ridge getting organized about it, and Wildomar resident Trudy Curry spearheading a campaign that included a community meeting at the park and sending out flyers announcing the meeting.

If this is your first time to the subject of the Camelia Townhouse Project and you want to catch up... please click the label "Camelia Townhouse Project" at the bottom of the blog.

Below is the video I was able to get of the developer's presentation. I don't expect anyone to spend their time with it, but I'm just including it as part of the record. 

There was a 3D mock up that tried to show how visible the existing properties would be from the project, pretty interesting, but isn't in the video. The only image from the slide show is the one you see in the screen shot below. You can also hear the set of twins cooing in the background from time to time.

I counted 32 public speakers, many having donated minutes, and only one was in favor of the project. 

I've included a video of the public comments, it's an hour and a half long. Some of the speakers used images that were put up on the big screens, but those don't appear in the video. 

In meetings where there are just a handful of speakers I like to give you a thumbnail sketch of their comments. That isn't going to work here. 
Even though I am not in favor of this project as it stands, I was the only speaker that attempted to poke holes into some of the concerns that were heard. To hear the catcalls as I spoke, here is a shortcut to that part of the video.

After hearing the fear mongering from many of the speakers, you'd think this project was designed to be a halfway house for convicted sex offenders, and other degenerates, with the sole intention to undermine the property values of the surrounding areas.

If the residents of Grizzly Ridge were going to nominate only one person to speak for them, I'd suggest it be Robert Kinsey. He spoke at the April meeting and again at this special meeting. He is calm, cool and collected, and he came with facts, not misinformation, emotion or hysteria. His part of the video starts at the 21:30 mark.
This was a common reaction after a public speaker finished speaking.

At this point the developer responded to the public comments. I'll include a link to the video that runs about 22 mins. 

Right out of the gate he tried to explain away why he snubbed his nose at the planning commission's directive to meet with the residents again. 

I get it, NOTHING was going to come out of such a meeting; both sides are at an impasse. One side wants to build, and the other side wants nothing there (yes, the Grizzly Ridge talking points are that they'd be fine with single family homes, but let's not kid ourselves here).

Even knowing that such a meeting with the residents was going to turn out to be fruitless, you were told to do it, and you preferred the don't ask permission, just apologize later route instead.

This lead into a very important discussion about the differences between the General Plan Map and the Zoning Map. A question was asked by Commissioner Veronica Langworthy about the two. Planning Director Matt Bassi and Chair Stan Smith spoke to it. 

The general plan is the controlling document. Consequently when a developer/applicant brings in a project that's compatible with the general plan, that applicant will do a zone change to bring it into compliance.

Chair Stan Smith

Back in the '70s the state adopted the general plan guidelines, which every city and county in the state of California had to create a general plan. There were seven mandated elements that have to be in the general plan, one of those is the land use element. 

That establishes the land use patterns, for every city and county. That becomes the foundation component of development for the city. In order to implement the land use plan, you create a zoning map that's supposed to match the land use plan.

State law requires that any development project has to be consistent with the general plan. So the zoning that we put in the staff report state that the R-3 zone is compatible with the MHDR plan use designation.

Planning Director Matt Bassi
For the complete exchange about the General Plan and Zoning Map, please watch the six minute video below.
The final part of the meeting had the comments by the commissioners, followed by the vote. Things didn't get fully out of hand, but Chair Smith had to admonish the audience more than once.

"Folks, please, we didn't interrupt you when you were talking, and you did really well, and I know that perhaps some of this conversation isn't going in the direction you were hoping for. You've been real good all night, so I please ask you for some more courtesy. Thank you."

Chair Stan Smith

The video is below, but I'll post the most memorable quotes from each of the commissioners.

We did receive a letter from one of the city planners from Murrieta that has reviewed the plot plan and he is promoting the project, as far as the interconnection. You go to Jefferson actually comes into a curve, goes beyond the last street and goes all the way to the city limit. 

They built it out as far as they possibly can, and aligned it to where it can be connected directly to us. It's specifically for that. So whether this project does that or not, that's going to happen. that's something that's needed for both communities.

===

I have some problems with the privacy concerns. Driving through the neighborhood, you guys live on a ridge. It's virtually every street is on top of the street behind it. Most streets do have somebody looking into another backyards. 


In an apartment complex where you've gone to the extent where the developer is going, with the landscaping, the [frosted] windows, and all the changes that have been made — in that way you have better privacy then what I saw from looking up into the backyards of all the people that are looking down onto others, going through your neighborhood. 

===
(After the first motion to adopt the resolution was made by Chair Smith)
The applicant has taken the general plan to heart. He purchased the property knowing exactly what the property was to be used for; what the general plan stated.  The design housing that fits the general plan, that fits the parcel, and they've taken several steps to try and modify — to try create some level of privacy. To try to make it fit into the community, as best they can, for what it is.

Commissioner John Lloyd


I do want to tell everyone thank you for showing up, I know it's been a long night.

It's kind of nice to know that we have this many people in the community that do care, and care about what projects are, and care about how we develop our city, and what's put in. 

As planning commissioners we do have a responsibility to our community, both Wildomar and the city of Murrieta, our neighbors. 

I do understand your concerns, and I want to say that if it was my home [in the existing development] I would have those same concerns of the privacy issues that were brought up, and wanting to make sure that something that was developed in the land across from where I lived would increase the value of my property, not possibly decrease the value of my property. 

===

(after the motion was made)
I do have some concerns. I have concerns with this being a project in the city of Wildomar. This isn't necessarily as we said in the prior meetings — what you want [to see] when you first come into the city of Wildomar [from the south]. It's not the vision... and the general plan can be changed. 

I understand that they did this based on the general plan, but there's been lots of changes, and things going on, with this property. There were other plans on this property. There are a lot of things going on. So we need to do what's best for the city of Wildomar.

Commissioner Kim Strong

I met with some of the residents, and I went into their backyards, looked at the line, and since have driven back a few times to see what the difference would look like with the new setbacks. 

I have to agree. I think that if it was my home in Murrieta, I'd be sitting right here with you (referring to the audience). It's hard to say that I'd want a project so close [to my home]. 

I like some parts of this project. I don't think it's a very family friendly project. Unfortunately the design itself doesn't have any place to make you feel that you own a piece of property. There's no patio, there's no slab in front of your door. There's nothing there to make you feel like you own anything, so it feels like a rental. 

===
(after the motion was made) It just doesn't have that feeling of permanence to stay there for longer than a year or two. It feels like a rental. I look at the apartments directly across the street from us here (city hall) and I think they're a nicer looking project. They have beautiful patios. I see those kids walk to school, my kids go to school with these kids here, they walk to school and back. It feels like a home, and it feels right because they're right next to a shopping center, they can walk to the shopping center. So it feels like it's a project that would work, but this doesn't feel right to me.  

Commissioner Michele Thomas

(After a considerably long pause)
There's a lot on both sides. I appreciate that the applicant has made some significant changes, especially towards the facade. Making it look more ranch... the setback, the wall the greenery. Very thoughtful. But we also have a number of people that have expressed concerns too, so... (pause, then inaudible).

Commissioner Veronica Langworthy

Anytime you have development next to development, and you've been used to not having anybody next to you — other than a coyote, you're going to feel offended. You're going to feel like,"Ok, great, but I moved out here for it to be rural". 

But rural disappeared twenty- thirty years ago. 

I'll tell you what rural is. I came here in 1973. There was 1800 people in Wildomar. There was about 3000 in Murrieta, and 3000 to 4000 in Temecula. Elsinore was the only incorporated city, with about 14,000 to 15,000 people. So you want to talk about rural? I know rural. 

In the 1980's, the minute the area started to grow, "rural" disappeared. 

====

Because of what was out here (rural) everybody says, "Golly, I want to move out there." I understand because that's what I did. As we moved into the area, we changed it. The demand was there so the builders followed it up. 

Chair Stan Smith

The vote begins at the 25 minute mark of the video. There were 4 things to vote on, and all went 3-2 with Smith, Lloyd and Langworthy voting in favor while Strong and Thomas voted against.

The next stop will be in front of the city council. My guess is that it will require a special meeting due to how much time the item will require.

OPINION TIME
It's one thing to have an opinion, even a strong opinion that you are passionate about. It's another thing to be rude, and think that by being disruptive at a city meeting is going to get you what you want. 

The raucous comportment certainly wasn't something that all the disappointed people engaged in, but just listen to the video to hear how little respect they showed for the process. Again they parked themselves right outside the glass doors speaking at full voice when they'd had enough.


At one point someone from the outside propped the door opened so that their voices could stream into the room unimpeded. Thankfully, Wildomar resident Kathy Bundy was there and closed the door despite the protestations from outside.

Oh, I bet that will change the vote... right? 

Even better, I bet it will sway the city council to vote your way too... is that what you're thinking?

Here's a nickle's worth of free advice, show up to the next meeting(s) en masse, but leave the snowflake level disruptions at home. 

Also, choose your best speakers to make the point. Concentrate on THE FACTS, and leave the grandstanding out of it... or don't. 

No one is impressed by exaggerations or insults, and for every well thought out comment that was heard at the June 21st meeting, there was at least one that counterbalanced it in the wrong direction.

It's going to come down to what the law is, and in this area "The Law" is the General Plan. During commissioner comments, Commissioner Strong mentioned that the General Plan could be changed; ostensibly to prevent a (this) condo project from going in on this site.

Let's just think about that suggestion for a moment. 

This landowner bought the property based on the General Plan, and came up with a project that fits within its guidelines. Imagine the slam dunk victory he'd have in court if at this point the General Plan was changed to ace him out.

Like the project or loath the project, you need to use logic and reason to understand the limited movement that the city has when it comes to such things. 

By all means, lobby the city council; 
The ball's in their court now.

Send them emails, make phone calls, tell them that you will not vote for them the next time they run, but do it with purpose. 

The purpose should be to appeal to their reasonable side, and shouldn't include impugning them or any of the fine people that represent this city. Especially not with base accusations of law breaking (taking a bribe) like I saw at the Wildomar Rap facebook page. You're better than that aren't you?


If your goal is to be dismissed as a crank, this is right way to do it.
I can't wait for the next episode of As the Camelia Townhouse Project Turns. No date has been set at this point. 
Let's hope that the next chapter in this saga finds fewer snowflakes in the audience.
•          •          •


Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
– Bernard Baruch

Wildomar Rap is learning that people disagree with Mr. Baruch by their actions. They love their own facts no matter how far off the mark they are.

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