To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Sunday, March 3, 2013

South Pasadena Throws 125th Birthday Bash


 By Rachel Young, March 3, 2013

Hundreds of South Pasadena residents of all ages turn out on a gorgeous Saturday to celebrate the city’s b-day with music, contests, and food at events staged in various locations in the city.
Organized by the city and the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the family-centered activities ranged from a climbing wall to a merry-go-round to free birthday cake.

Essay and photo contest winners were announced and given ribbons, cheered on by very proud parents.

Drum roll please: And the winner of the cupcake challenge is… Heirloom’s, with a tangy lemon orange cupcake that stole the taste buds of the judging council members. They received a large banner to hang in their bakery.

Assemblymember Chris Holden and State Senator Carol Liu were in attendance to congratulate the city and wish residents 125 more years of good times.

Community members wished South Pasadena happy birthday in their very own way:

Fifi the tortoise wants South Pasadena to have more dandelions for her dining pleasure and hopes she can meet a handsome Russian tortoise soon (since that is where she hails from). Fifi belongs to Anders and Evan McCarthy, who found her back in 1996 and have enjoyed her company ever since.

Jim Miller and Joanne Nuckols say “Stop the tunnel.” If the 710 tunnel gets built it could be disastrous for the city, the pair say, possibly affecting drinking water quality and creating dangerous driving conditions with its steep 2.8 grade – and the project will cost more than $24 billion, too. Miller hopes South Pasadena will celebrate its 125th by rallying together to stop the tunnel project.

“I hope South Pasadena has a big long life.” 3rd grader Viggo Villa Lobos said. He won first place for his photograph of the city sign.

Elizabeth Rosenburg hopes South Pasadena gets more kids and more ducklings for its birthday! She is four years old and attends St. James preschool. Her family has been proud residents of South Pasadena for eight years.

“I hope it gets better every year, even though I don’t think that’s possible,” high school student Taylor Holmes said. Bailey Roudani and Natalia Valencia say, “Happy Birthday! I love you! You’re the best city ever!”

“It’s a really colorful place. I have been here for two years. Its so historic and colorful, I love taking walks here. It’s a very homey and friendly place,” resident Rachel Sundberg said. She is thankful for the beauty of the city and wishes the city a happy birthday.

Video: Pasadena Officially Breaks Ground on Controversial Fire Station Rehab


The seismic rehabilitation of Fire Station 39 launches at a neighborhood gathering with city officials and area residents


Video by James MacPherson, March 3, 2013


A formal groundbreaking ceremony for the seismic rehabilitation of Pasadena Fire Station 39  was held Saturday, with neighbors, city officials and fire department personnel coming together to celebrate and enjoy some famous Fire Dept. hot dogs.

Preliminary work on retrofitting has already begun. Fire Station 39, at 50 Avenue 64, was originally constructed in 1952 and, together with Station 37, is the oldest of the department’s eight fire stations.

The need to relocate the station’s crew during construction caused controversy for more than a year. Ultimately a scaled-back crew was placed nearby.

The brick exterior of the two-story, 4,400-square-foot building has historic significance and improvement work was specifically planned to retain the exterior while completing the extensive interior remodel and seismic upgrade.

The $1.78 million construction project is managed by the Pasadena Department of Public Works.  The project is estimated to be completed in late 2013, weather permitting.

FACT:  SR710 Tunnel equals Tolls

From Sylvia Plummer, March 3, 2013
 At a recent Railvolution Conference, Art Leahy, Metro CEO, made the following statement:

We are now just beginning to evaluate two major highway projects.  Which we think will be toll roads and great PPP3 (Public Private Partnerships) projects.  One would be a tunnel under Pasadena to connect two of our freeways.  It's a project that would be self sufficient, paid for by tolls, that would free up Measure R dollars for other projects in the San Gabriel Valley

Below is the link to the video of Art Leahy speaking at the Railvolution Conference.   
Click on:  Monday, October 15, 2012
Scroll to:  Welcome to Los Angeles
Mr. Leahy speaks for the first 8 minutes of the video.  At the 6:49 minute mark he starts talking about the SR710.  

Special thanks to Mayor Villaraigosa for being late to the conference or we may have never heard this information.

Council District 1 rivals have similar goals, different approaches

 Jose Gardea and Gilbert Cedillo both stress job creation and development projects for the district that includes MacArthur Park. They differ on how to get there.


By Laura J. Nelson, March 3, 2013

 Gardea, Cedillo

Jose Gardea, left, has been endorsed by multiple neighborhood groups, as well as the local union for food and commercial workers. Gil Cedillo has been endorsed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Gov. Jerry Brown.

On a sunny Friday morning, men flitted around the MacArthur Park bathrooms like moths to a flame.

"See that activity there?" Los Angeles City Council candidate Jose Gardea said. "Drug activity. That has got to stop."

The squat building that borders Alvarado Street, Gardea says, represents the problems with the park, which has long been a stronghold of illegal activity.

Cleaning it up, which Gardea estimates could cost $18 million, would include adding police, restoring the red-flagged boathouse and putting boats back on the lake. It's one issue that council candidates are facing in the 1st District. Incumbent Ed Reyes is terming out, leaving a fight between two candidates with similar upbringings and goals but very different political histories.

Gilbert Cedillo, 58, has been in the Legislature for 15 years, representing districts that included much of downtown and some of the 1st District. He faces term limits on his Assembly seat. Gardea, 44, is Reyes' chief of staff. The men say they approach issues as their training has taught them: Cedillo through compromise and discussion, Gardea by working with neighborhoods.

Both hope to revitalize the 1st District, where job growth declined 9.6% in 2011, according to the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the average wage was third-lowest in the city. Creating jobs and funding public safety are issues both candidates discuss frequently. But proposed developments in areas near downtown have sparked some of the most contention, including plans for a major residential complex in Elysian Park, as well as Wal-Mart's ongoing efforts to build a grocery in Chinatown.

"Our future hinges on who represents us," said Echo Park Neighborhood Council President Ari Bessendorf, who has fought the Elysian Park development. "The council seat can decide everything."

The 1st District cuts a diagonal swath from Pico-Union to Highland Park. It's the third-smallest council district by area and one of the poorest. Half the voting population is Latino. Nearly 15% is Asian. Cedillo and Gardea both grew up there: Cedillo in Boyle Heights, Gardea near MacArthur Park.

Gardea describes himself as an organizer who wants to continue the work he did under Reyes, including creating affordable housing, multiuse developments and business improvement districts. He wants to revitalize areas like Chinatown and Highland Park without ruining their culture or character.

"Historic preservation is economic development," Gardea said. "Gentrification doesn't have to be a bad word."

Gardea's opponents have blasted him for being weak on job creation and unfriendly to businesses. Since January, the Chamber has spent nearly $32,000 on yard signs and mailers that blame Gardea for what they say is a $13,000 wage gap between 1st District workers and the rest of the city.

The district's economic development slowed when the Community Redevelopment Agency dissolved in 2011, Gardea said. That threw into limbo proposals for affordable housing and business development in Pico-Union, Westlake and Chinatown.

Gardea blames state lawmakers for reclaiming property taxes that flowed to the CRA. Finding money for projects now will require cobbling together funding from many sources, he said. Cedillo said local lawmakers, including Reyes, were at fault because local CRAs would not share their money to fund social services for the poor.

From 1990 to 1996, Cedillo was the general manager of the Service Employees International Union. He has never held a local political position. He is sometimes called "One-Bill Gil," for his nine attempts to pass a law that would make undocumented immigrants eligible for driver's licenses.

"We are the modern-day Ellis Island," Cedillo said. In the immigration debate, he said, Los Angeles should lead by example.

A large portion of Cedillo's funding comes from labor and business organizations. Cedillo has raised $272, 533, with $254,688 more contributed from political action committees. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Gov. Jerry Brown have both endorsed Cedillo.

Gardea has raised $307,834 and has been endorsed by multiple neighborhood groups, as well as the local union for food and commercial workers. (A third candidate, businessman Jesus Rosas, has raised $2,923 — not enough to qualify for matching funds.)

Gardea and Cedillo have clashing opinions on the expansion of the 710 Freeway. Its proposed routes would narrowly miss the 1st District, but the traffic and construction would affect its residents.

"This could become reality," said Antonio Castillo, president of the Highland Park Heritage Trust. "People focusing on the issue have viewed that as a dividing line between Gardea and Cedillo."

Gardea opposes any extension. He says he doesn't trust Caltrans and calls the plans a "20th century model." Cedillo authored a state bill that blocks above-ground expansion but supports a tunnel that would connect the 10 and 210 freeways.

The Barlow Respiratory Hospital, a 101-year-old cluster of buildings in a leafy knoll of Elysian Park, has been another rallying point for community members. Facing expensive upgrades to meet earthquake building codes, the hospital plans to rezone for high-density development, sell most of the land to developers, then build a new hospital.

Bessendorf of the Echo Park council has circulated an anti-development petition with more than 2,000 signatures, Gardea's among them. Cedillo has said he opposes the current plan, which could create more than 800 units in an area the size of Echo Park Lake. But the labor federation, which has given more than $152,000 to Cedillo's campaign, according to campaign finance data, has publicly endorsed the project.

Wal-Mart already has building permits for a grocery in Chinatown that would be roughly one-fifth the size of a typical Wal-Mart discount store. The company has started remodeling a vacant storefront at Cesar Chavez and Grand avenues. Reyes proposed a temporary ban last fall on all big-box retailers in Chinatown, saying such stores could destroy the area's unique culture and history. The measure failed.

Gardea does not support the Wal-Mart and has said so publicly. Cedillo says he will find a compromise. A better solution would have been a Ralphs similar to the store in downtown Los Angeles, Cedillo said, which is friendly to labor.

In MacArthur Park, Gardea wants to pay for upgrades through a business improvement district, propositions and private investment. Cedillo plans to use his relationships with the governor, law enforcement and business organizations to make the area safer.

"If you can do things that are really difficult," Cedillo said, referencing his time in Sacramento, "you can do things that are easy."

Kevin Modesti: L.A.'s mayor's race is more ho-hum than historic


March 3, 2013

Remember how excited Democrats were during the 2008 primaries, when they were deciding whether to go with the first African-American presidential nominee from a major party or the first woman presidential nominee from a major party, and how momentous that general election felt, as the nation decided whether to choose its first black president?

Shouldn't the Los Angeles mayoral election feel that way?

Tuesday, the city will set about electing its first woman mayor, or its first black Jewish woman mayor, or its first Mexican-Italian-American Jewish mayor, or its first openly gay mayor.

Respectively, they are Wendy Greuel, Jan Perry, Eric Garcetti and Kevin James.

However L.A. votes Tuesday - and probably in a runoff in May - it will make history.

So why isn't the mayoral campaign more, you know, colorful?

Is it good or bad that gender, race, ethnicity, religion and sexuality haven't become an issue?

One point: A municipal "first" isn't the same as a U.S. "first." First Black President resonates for all sorts of reasons that First Woman Mayor would not.

Another point: L.A. may be too diverse and too cool to care about such things. If longshot Emanuel Pleitez were to win, he would merely be our second Latino mayor in more than a century.

And another big point: It may be that voters have moved beyond the idea that having a new-look leader will (ahem) change everything for better or worse.

Obama hasn't fixed everything; nor is he, except in some imaginations, to blame for everything. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hasn't fixed everything, or made everything worse.

This realization is healthy.

Nobody thinks Greuel or Perry would bring a magical women's perspective and make L.A. work better with a click of her heels.

The bad news: This is because L.A.'s problems are too deep for any one Hizzoner or Herroner to solve without a lot of people's help, including perhaps some visual-effects magic by the "Life of Pi" people.

Identity politics still could influence the result.

But identity has been less of an overt issue than you might expect. That's good news and bad news, and either way its insignificance is significant.

Doug McIntyre: Politics is sinkhole swallowing all of us


March 3, 2013

Jeff Bush never saw it coming.

The 36-year old Florida man had shuffled off to sleep last Thursday when a giant sinkhole opened up under his room sucking Bush and his bed into the earth.

While we've been conditioned to expect the worst of everything - from earthquakes, Monkey Pox, bad cholesterol, global warming to FOX News - how many of us actually worry we'll be swallowed by a sinkhole under our beds?

Yet there is a sinkhole we should be worried about.

It's the financial sinkhole poised to swallow Los Angeles. But if it does suck us under, nobody can say they didn't see it coming.

On Tuesday, voters will go to the polls in tiny numbers to pick candidates to lead America's second largest city into the future. Always the future.

Jan Perry, Emanuel Pleitez, Eric Garcetti, Wendy Greuel and Kevin James are the principle contenders for the top prize, mayor of L.A. Two are likely to survive Tuesday's primary and square off in the general election in May.

Will the winner be swallowed by the sinkhole or have the spine and savvy to save L.A.?

Besides the 8 candidates seeking the Mayor's gig, 68 other names appear on the ballot hoping to land important jobs like City Controller, City Attorney, 8 City Council seats and 3 members of the LAUSD School Board.

Each of them talks about the future, but we can't wait for the future. We need help today.

Our current mayor has asked us to "Dream along" with him but while Antonio Villaraigosa was busy dreaming the sinkhole was growing under our beds.

Outsider Kevin James has correctly pointed the fault-finger at establishment candidates Garcetti, Greuel and Perry for signing many of the deals that have shoved L.A. to the brink of bankruptcy and for authoring many of the policies that favor super-rich developers while encouraging the poorest of our hemisphere's poor to flock to Los Angeles as the infrastructure disintegrates and basic city services are sliced to the bone.

The challenge for a Mayor Garcetti, Greuel or Perry would be taming the duel beasts of organized labor and big developers who have been fed at the table on Spring Street for years.

Outsider James has a bigger challenge.

The most dangerous animal in the forest is a wounded animal. A James victory would be an unprecedented challenge to the political establishment of Los Angeles. The system will fight back.

While we'll have to wait to see whom the voters pick on Tuesday this we already know; Los Angeles can't tax its way to prosperity anymore than a drunk can drink himself sober.

That's a notion City Hall has found hard to swallow.

Tattler Sunday Local Sequestration News Report


March 3, 2013
 Low flying attack aircraft

 (Mod: So far we have escaped any cuts to our services related to the sequestration budget cuts out of Washington DC. Therefore, and despite all of the rumors, there will be no staff layoffs or furloughs here at The Tattler. At least not yet. Something that is good news for our growing community of information savvy readers keen on discovering what exactly it is the durn government is doing to us, anyway. So far we have been unable to detect any immediate sequestration related effects on government agencies in the area, either. However, we do remain hopeful. So all of that having been said, we cautiously move forward with this week's edition of the Tattler Sunday News.) 

COG Moves Towards Endorsing California Beauty Pageant - The other day I received the following e-mail from an irate reader: "You'll be proud to know that the COG is moving in the right direction - City dollars being used at the COG to discover yet another worthwhile opportunity and important issue that will have a positive affect on the cities of the San Gabriel Valley. Item #6 Endorsement of Ms California USA. So you'll have 31 or so members sitting around earning their $50 to discuss endorsement of a pagent contestant? Really?? Maybe this is a way to get the geezers to pay attention."

Below is the agenda that includes what could be the biggest SGVCOG initiative since battery recycling. Due to sequester cuts, there is no news yet if the COG is going forward with plans to publish its highly anticipated "Conway's Cuties" pictorial quarterly yet.

Executive Committee Regular Meeting Agenda
Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 4:30 PM

Alhambra City Hall, Conference Room A 111 South 1st Street, Alhambra, CA 91801-3796

1. Roll Call
2. Public Comment (If necessary, the President may place reasonable time limits on all comments)
CONSENT ITEMS (It is anticipated that the Executive Committee may take action on the following matters)
3. Meeting Minutes – 2/6/13
Recommended Action: Approve
4. Correspondence
Recommended Action: Receive and File
GENERAL COUNSEL (It is anticipated that the Executive Committee may take action on the following matters)
5. Status of Public Records Requests
Recommended Action: Receive and File
PRESIDENT’S REPORT (It is anticipated that the Executive Committee may take action on the following matters)
6. Miss California USA – Jodie Loree
Recommended Action: Direction to staff regarding SGVCOG endorsement.

SCAG sees longer economic recovery period, with L.A. County trailing Orange County (SGV Tribune click here): Southern California's economic recovery is moving slower than predicted and the results are varying greatly from county to county.
That's the conclusion of a Southern California Association of Governments economic report discussed last week at a meeting of industry and government leaders gathered at the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County headquarters in North Whittier.

A SCAG committee, led by President Glen Becerra, a city councilman from Simi Valley, will use the report to lobby Sacramento lawmakers this week to relax stringent regulations such as the California Environmental Quality Act and focus on improving California's business climate.

Becerra said the mission will be to convince Sacramento that it needs to help businesses grow by adding jobs and convince those here to stay. "How many Fortune 500 companies are here anymore?" he asked the group. "The companies that can move, they are long gone."

The report characterized the six-county region's economic growth and job creation as "slow, uneven and inconsistent" and said returning to pre-recession employment will take longer than originally predicted by its economists in 2010.

Los Angeles County won't recover fully from the Great Recession until 2018, two years later than SCAG economists had predicted, according to the report entitled "Accelerating Southern California's Economic Recovery." A worst case scenario pushes recovery back to 2020.

(Mod: Yeah, it's all CEQA's fault. Nothing to due with the Rain Tax, or all of those bizarre "sustainability" initiatives peddled by our most intrusive of Regional Planning Organizations. It also looks like we have yet another vaunted SCAG "regional forecast" that didn't quite pan out. Does SCAG ever get it right? Can anyone think of a Federally funded organization in greater need of a few sequestration cuts than SCAG?)

City Hall’s Brand of Socialism: Soak the Working Class with Higher Taxes to Support Millionaire Cops and Firefighters (Ron Kaye L.A. click here): This is your last chance Los Angeles: If you pass Proposition A’s sales tax hike and put Greuel or Garcetti in the Mayor’s office, Feuer in City Attorney’s office and Zine in the Controller’s office with eight failed legislators, five obedient staffers and two cops on the City Council, you deserve the calamity that is coming.

Check out City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana’s “Road to Financial Recovery — City at a Crossroads” Analysis released Feb. 7 and see just how feeble City Hall’s efforts have been to rein in costs and how precarious the city’s financial position remains because of the inadequacy of the measures taken — more smoke and mirrors than substance, to be sure.

Santana who’s own position is said to be even more precarious than the city’s because the unions that so heavily funding the sleazy Greuel, Garcetti, Feuer and Zine campaigns have demanded he be fired. His crime: Daring to suggest over and over that stronger measures were needed while the elected officials showed what moral and political cowards they are by remaining silent.

You can see the depths of political perversity that reigns at City Hall in the opening words of Santana’s report when he credits “the steadfast leadership of the mayor” and “the resolve of the City Council” for a serious of half measures that have reduced general fund positions by 14.4 percent but not reduced salary costs a single penny.

Between the lines of his report, deep in the details, is a shocking story of mismanagement by those who would presume to rise to higher office like Greuel, Garcetti and Zine and those who want to double their salaries at public expense as Councilmen after years of destroying the state’s financial position as legislators in Sacramento.

(Mod: Just an awesome rant from Ron Kaye. Be sure to read the rest of it. Our kind of guy.)

Local cops increasingly turn to social media for preventive policing (Pasadena Star News click here): On a cold and drizzly morning at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Headquarters Bureau, a 25-year-old social media dispatcher is sitting at a computer station in a dimly lit room skimming social media feeds on three large screens.

The tech-savvy civilian dispatcher is part of the bureau's new, 24-hour Electronic Communications Triage or eComm Unit that monitors social media and Internet content, shares information with the public and trains sheriff's officials to use such platforms.

"They're watching social media and Internet comments that pertain to this geographic area, watching what would pertain to our agencies so we can prevent crime, help the public," LASD Capt. Mike Parker said. "And now they're going to be ramping up more and more with more sharing and interacting, especially during crises, whether it's local or regional."

Since launching last September, the eight-member eComm unit has identified a suicidal teen on Instagram, intercepted bomb threats made on Twitter and discovered plans for hundreds of illegal drug parties via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

(Mod: How do you think our local gendarmes have been able to bust all of those unicorn and rainbow "nature dance" parties?)

Store owners say plastic bags causes more shoplifting (Seattle PI.com click here): When the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a ban on plastic bags and required businesses to charge a nickel for paper bags, city leaders believed it would be better all around. "I think we've gotten to a place where it's really going to work for the environment, businesses and the community in general," Councilman Mike O'Brien said at the time.

But the bag ban is contributing to thousands of dollars in losses for at least one Seattle grocery store, and questions have been raised about the risk of food-borne illness from reusable bags that shoppers don't often wash.

Mike Duke, who operates the Lake City Grocery Outlet with his wife, said that since the plastic-bag ban started last July, he's lost at least $5,000 in produce and between $3,000 and $4,000 in frozen food.
"We've never lost that much before," said Duke, who found those numbers through inventories of stolen and damaged goods.

The Dukes opened the Lake City grocery store in June 2011, and Mike Duke said in the year before the plastic-bag ban losses in frozen food and produce were a small fraction of what he's seeing now. As he explained to seattlepi.com and also the North Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the shoplifters' patterns are difficult to detect.

They enter the store with reusable bags and can more easily conceal items they steal. The reusable bags require staff to watch much more closely, and even though the store has a loss-prevention officer and more than a dozen security cameras, it's tough to tell what a customer has paid for and what they may already have brought with them.

(Mod: OK, I guess we couldn't get through a Sunday News without at least one reusable shopping bag bashing article.)

Enjoy your day off. And watch out for whatever it is you're worried about.