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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

School Board District 3 Run Off Set April 16


March 26, 2013




On April 16, eligible voters will participate in a run-off election to select a representative for Pasadena Unified School District, (PUSD) Board of Education, District 3, Pasadena City Clerk Mark Jomsky announced today.

Ruben Hueso and Tyron Hampton are the two candidates that received the highest number of votes in the March 5, 2013 Primary Election without reaching the necessary 50 percent, plus one, majority needed to be declared elected.

Eligible voters within Board of Education District 3 will have an opportunity to cast a ballot at the April 16, 2013 General Municipal (run-off) Election and decide their Board of Education representative. Detailed election information is available at http://ww2.cityofpasadena.net/cityclerk/election, or call (626) 744-4124.

For the recent City Council elections, voters re-elected Councilmembers Victor Gordo and Terry Tornek and elected candidate John J. Kennedy to his first term, filling the seat vacated by former long-time Councilmember Chris Holden, now a member of the California State Assembly.

The Council at its March 18 meeting certified the City Council results as presented by City Clerk Jomsky, including: Council District 3, Kennedy, 674 votes, 55.8 percent; Council District 5, Gordo, 910 votes, 89.1 percent; Council District 7, Tornek, 1,322 votes, 100 percent.

The City Clerk is scheduled to administer the Oath of Office to the Councilmembers on May 6 in the Council Chamber at City Hall as part of the annual City Council Organizational Meeting.

For PUSD, voters selected representatives for Board District 1, Kimberly Keene, 1,110 votes, 71.8 percent; District 5, Elizabeth Pomeroy, 1,154 votes, 68.8 percent; and District 7, Scott Phelps, 2,100 votes, 60.9 percent.

For more information about the City of Pasadena, go online to www.cityofpasadena.net.

GOP’s dumb California-bashing 


By David Sirota, March 26,  2013

GOP's dumb California-bashing As a columnist, I receive email every day from readers across this great country. Not surprisingly, some of these letters are angry missives frothing with apocalyptic rhetoric and dire warnings. Of late, no matter the controversy of the day nor what specific issue I happen to be writing about, these particular screeds (often in response to liberal successes) have been repeating a singular message: liberals, progressives, socialists, communists, hippies and other alleged undesirables are trying to “turn America into California.”

No doubt, you’ve probably caught this or a similar phrase in your Web surfing, your email box and your casual discussions. It is the conversation-ender du jour. Don’t like the election results and the policies that follow? Deride them as proof America is “becoming California.” Don’t like a bill moving through your legislature? Cite it as more evidence your state is “turning into California.” Don’t like what Congress is doing on any given day? Write a screed bewailing America “turning into California.”

As with most of the right’s facile slogans that get repeated ad nauseam, this one isn’t some representation of spontaneous grass-roots sentiment. It is instead a commodified product — a prepackaged talking point carefully constructed by the conservative movement’s media machine for maximum repetition among that movement’s dittoheads.

The first thing to say in response to this is to say nothing at all, and instead just laugh. That’s because if you’ve ever driven across America, you know that after three decades of conservative economic policies, vast swaths of the red-state heartland now look like a testing ground for neutron bombs, with crumbling buildings and faded billboards the haunting reminders of glory days long since passed. Yet, somehow, much of the vitriol aimed at California tends to come from this expanse, as if things are so much better in bumblefuck than they are in the Golden State.

That’s why at one level the whole talking point is funny, and why there are few things more LMFAO-worthy than getting an email from someone in Craphole, USA, ripping on California. It’s just absurd on its face — especially because California isn’t just some run-of-the-mill place that’s merely not worse than lots of other places. On the contrary, compared to lots of locales, California is friggin’ awesome.

Look, just face it: There’s a reason why the song is “California Dreaming.” It’s the same reason tunes like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “I Love L.A.” became hits celebrating California, and songs like “Allentown” and “Atlantic City” only resonated because they lamented those non-California kinds of places. It’s the same reason California is a bigger tourist destination than, say, Missouri (even with Branson!). And it’s the same reason why when many people retire or strike it rich, more of them move to California than to Nebraska. That unifying reason should be obvious: California, rightfully, has been — and remains — synonymous with awesomeness.

I won’t bore you with a recounting of all the inherent reasons California is so awesome: Let’s just stipulate that even the most devoted California haters can probably acknowledge stuff like terrific weather, vast coastline, towering mountains, beautiful rivers, world-class food and rich cultural diversity. But even if you (somehow) want to ignore all of that and just focus on California as a human project — that is, its economy, its culture, etc. — it still in totality adds up to “awesome” in comparison to so many other places.

First, the dollars and cents: California’s economy is so dynamic, diversified and powerful that if the state were its own country, it would represent the 9th largest economy not in the U.S., but on the planet Earth. Even more incredible, the Golden State has achieved this standing despite the fact that, on balance, the federal tax code drains money out of the state, forcing it to subsidize its red-state haters (related side note: ever notice that conservatives bewail California’s state government for overspending, but omit the fact that the state might have to spend more because the federal tax code forces it to send so much money to politically conservative states?).

In recent years, conservatives have singled out California’s economic woes and budget deficit as proof that the state is becoming Greece. The domino-theory logic follows that if America “becomes California,” America will then become Greece, too.

In this, conservatives expected us to forget that most states faced economic problems and massive deficits during the recession. Likewise, they now ask us to ignore two other inconvenient facts: 1) California’s economy has grown faster than the national economy and 2) thanks to a liberal tax initiative and policies by the Democratic governor and Legislature, the state now sports a projected $2.5 billion budget surplus.

Nobody, of course, would argue that California is a utopia with zero problems. Like other places, it has serious issues — and depending on which method you use to analyze data, it clearly does rank poorly in some critical areas. That said, when it comes to many of the policy areas California critics home in on, comparative context is key.

Yes, California’s severe economic stratification is a problem, but then, so is America’s as a whole. On top of that, if you are a conservative purporting to have a problem with this economic inequality in California, then where’s your outrage at the even more intense economic inequality in Arizona — aka conservatives’ much-vaunted poster child for everything that’s supposedly great?

Yes, California has relatively high unemployment, but that unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been since the recession thanks to the state now being one of the fastest job creators in the country (and imagine how much lower its unemployment rate might be if the federal tax code stopped forcing it to subsidize red states).

Yes, California has recently enacted draconian tuition hikes for its public university system, but as the Los Angeles Times notes, “even with steep hikes, the Cal State system’s tuition and fees total $6,521, still below the $7,186 national average for similar master’s degree campuses.” Additionally, the state’s public higher education system isn’t any old public higher education system; it is one of the few public systems that, in terms of academics and research, has branches that are on par with much higher-priced private Ivy League institutions.

Yes, California does have comparatively high housing prices, but while that’s certainly a problem, it is a problem that in one sense actually reflects the awesomeness of the state. Indeed, housing prices are high because the state’s awesomeness means so many people want to live there, thus driving real estate prices ever higher (and by the way, so many think California is so exceedingly awesome that even those prices haven’t prevented the state from growing its population).

In light of all this, it is obvious why conservative movement leaders want to make California into a boogeyman. Put simply, the state is an imperfect but nonetheless shining success story of liberal politics and policy. Therefore, the right aims to slander it in order to prevent the state’s success from undermining conservatives’ sacred mythology about how to create a better America.

Less obvious — but equally important — is why, in light of California’s comparative successes, the anti-California propaganda nonetheless has any audience at all. And it does seem to have at least some modicum of an audience. As Public Policy Polling confirmed last year, more national survey respondents tell pollsters they have an unfavorable view of California than say they have a positive view of the state.

As a non-Californian (happily!) living in the non-coastal heartland, I agree with California political consultant Roger Salazar who told the San Francisco Chronicle that the numbers don’t express what they seem to and that at least part of the negative sentiment is about jealousy. Basically, at least some of those saying they hate California are likely saying it in the way an angst-ridden high school dude says he hates the gorgeous girl he’s actually pining for but can’t get. And guess what? When right-wingers tell this covetous subgroup to hate California, that’s comforting in the same pathetic way it is when that high school dude’s friends tell him he’s better than the girl and that she doesn’t deserve him anyway.

Another part of the animus toward California must be misdirected anger toward so-called Liberal Hollywood (so-called because while many individual actors and writers may be left leaning, Hollywood as an industry is anything but liberal).

But jealousy and Hollywood bashing is not the whole story. The other equally significant reason California is a boogeyman to hardcore conservatives is because it represents a triple whammy: it is at once a liberal state, a majority-minority state and America’s most diverse state. And if there’s anything America’s bigoted conservative base fears and hates, it is politically empowered liberal people of color and a diverse America becoming a majority-minority nation.

In practice, that means the word “California” has different connotations for different audiences.

For most of us, it is a word describing an actual geographic place and political jurisdiction that we can concretely judge with aforementioned data. But when conservative politicians and media icons invoke California, many aren’t only referring to that place or that data. Some are also deliberately — if deviously — sounding a racist dog whistle aimed at riling up right-wing fears of a non-white and more left-leaning cultural invasion in general, and of Democratic-voting Latinos in particular. Put into electoral terms, in warning conservatives that America is “becoming California” or “turning into California,” that dog whistle is really trying to scare Americans about their country now being a nation whose politics and culture are no longer that of Mitt Romney’s conservative and white-male-dominated coalition, but that of the far more liberal and diverse Obama coalition.

In the short run, the California talking points will continue, and they may seem momentarily trenchant. But remember: There are long-term strategic risks for conservatives as they continue to try to turn California into a political effigy.

First and foremost, there are lots of Americans who simply like or love California. These are the people who, if they aren’t among the millions who visit or vacation there, continue to equate California with endless opportunity and the American Dream (an equation, by the way, that is deeply embedded in this nation’s culture).

Additionally, even among many of the self-described California haters, many whose animus is motivated by juvenile jealousy (or Hollywood hating) still in their heart of hearts know California is awesome. After all, that’s why they are jealous. And so when conservatives tell them that liberals are California-izing America, that may not strike this subgroup as such an awful thing; it may, in fact, boomerang against conservatives in unforeseen ways.

That leaves the hardcore racists. They will go on loving the California bashing, which all but guarantees some sort of anti-California cottage industry for years to come. However, in an America whose demographics are looking more California-like by the day, those folks are fast losing their political agency. In their place is a growing majority that knows California is hardly perfect, but also knows that compared to the alternative, a California-esque future for America hold he promise of greatness.

Metro Board to consider change to Measure R expenditure plan as part of latest project acceleration effort


By Steve Hymon, March 26, 2013


In 2010, the Metro Board of Directors approved the 30/10 plan, the idea being to build 30 years worth of Measure R projects in the next decade. Although it hasn’t yet worked out, that policy is still very much on the books — and Metro staff are still trying to advance Measure R road and transit projects.

The first part of a new acceleration strategy will come before the Metro Board at its monthly meeting on Thursday. In particular, Metro staff are recommending that the Board approve a public notice of a planned change to the Measure R expenditure plan that would allow second- and third-decade Measure R projects to begin receiving funds this decade.

If approved, the proposal would then be vetted by a three-judge panel that provides oversight for Measure R. After the judges release their findings, the plan is for the Metro Board to vote on the new dates for the expenditure plan and a new acceleration plan at the Board’s May meeting.

And what will the acceleration strategy be this time around? I don’t know the details beyond what’s in the staff report issued last week (the report is below). The report shows that Metro is looking at assembling funds from a variety of sources — Measure R, America Fast Forward loans and bonds (30/10 was renamed America Fast Forward in 2011) and possibly revenues from Prop A and C, the half-cent sales tax increases approved by L.A. County voters in 1980 and 1990, respectively.

So stay tuned. As always there’s a lot of balls in the air, particularly at the federal level, where Metro is trying to lock down New Starts money for the Westside Subway Extension and Regional Connector while also getting getting Congress to fully adopt and fund the America Fast Forward plan.

Car of the Day: A California Two-Way


By Henry Grabar, March 26, 2013


 Car of the Day: A California Two-Way

Trains usually have engines at each end, so that they can make return journeys without turning around. But cars?

This "Ford Custom Clown Car" has just that capability, which means that it can be driven either way.

We're not sure if this is safe, or useful, or even street legal.

What we do know is that it's for sale, for the low price of $2,500. Who wants to take it for a spin and demonstrate this vehicle's potential?

An On-the-Go Air Filtration System for Beijing's Bikers


By Amanda Erickson, March 26, 2013



 An On-the-Go Air Filtration System for Beijing's Bikers

Beijing's air is so bad, cyclists have taken to creating their own breathing contraptions just to get by.
At least, that's how artist Matt Hope is handling the current air quality crisis. Hope has invented a sort of "breathing bicycle," which he uses to travel around the city. The equipment used in construction is pretty basic -- an IKEA garbage can, fighter-pilot breathing mask, moped helmet, wheel-powered generator and home air filtration system. When he pedals, Hope activates a system to filter out haze and generate clean air.

Hope told Reuters he built the bike "as a way of protecting himself from air pollution." Below, photos from photographer Petar Kujundzic.

CityDig: The Utopia of Elysian Park Before Dodger Stadium


By Glen Creason, March 20, 2013

(Note: The destruction of Elysian Park to put in Dodger Stadium is still a very sore point with the Mexican-America community, some of whom moved from Elysian Park when their houses and neighborhood was destroyed to El Sereno. Now, El Sereno is threatened with another destruction: the 710 Tunnel.)

This official city map captures one of the most colorful and controversial pieces of land in Los Angeles history. While the cartography identifies the larger area as Elysian Park, the focus here is on a place known best as Chavez Ravine. Once called Stone Quarry Hills, it was remarkably bucolic and timeless despite its proximity to the plaza and downtown Los Angeles.

The ravine gets its name from Julian Chavez, who purchased the land in 1844 and then watched it grow to some 315 acres of rugged hillsides where livestock roamed. This map represents the area in 1930, before it grew rapidly after World War II and the land was divided into three idyllic communities: Bishop, Palo Verde and La Loma. Mexican-Americans, Filipinos, African-Americans, and Chinese co-existed peacefully in the ravine and managed to establish schools, help in the war effort, and win some community battles, including the banning of explosions conducted by local brickyards in Elysian Park. Famous photographs by Don Normark reveal a sweet little enclave that had plenty of character without an ounce of pretension.

Later, the housing booms of post-war Los Angeles caused the city to covet the land and insist it be used for public housing. While the residents protested mightily, the city used eminent domain to clear the hillsides and the neighborhoods seen here on Reposa, Malvina, Brooks, Paducah, Bishop’s Road,
Lookout Drive and Mora Street all vanished. Although the bulldozers were supposed to make a place for the dispossessed, the Communist paranoia of post-war American kept public housing plans from being realized and in time the land was traded to owner Walter O’Malley of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Dodger Stadium was built on the ground that was once called Lookout Mountain (here called Silverwood). What was once La Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop was paved over and made into a parking lot. Yep, they paved paradise and put in a parking lot.

$1 million bus stop opens in Arlington


By Patricia Sullivan, March 24, 2013


 Arlington County's new $1 million bus stop at Walter Reed Drive and Columbia Pike, features an electronic bus tracking map and posts arrival times.

The glass-and-steel roof swoops up like a bird taking flight. A wall made of etched glass opens the rear vista to newly planted landscaping. Embedded in the floor are heating elements intended to ward off the cold weather and keep winter-weary feet cozy.

The location, near Columbia Pike and Walter Reed Drive, is perfectly positioned to take advantage of Arlington County’s growing night life and ethnic restaurants.

And the price tag: $1 million.

“Is this made of gold?” asked commuter Yohannes Kaleab, examining the concrete-and-stainless-steel bench that is part of the new, seven-figure bus shelter.

“What?” asked Robin Stewart as he learned of the cost of the structure while waiting for a bus there last week. “That’s ridiculous. From a citizen, from a voter, whoever put that budget through needs to get their butt canned. It’s an outrage.”

The “super stop,” which opened March 11, is the first of 24 new bus stops that will also accommodate Arlington’s long-planned streetcars. It has 10-inch high curbs and 90 feet of concrete, large enough for two buses to pull up at once. It will shelter 15 people at a time, an important benefit for the 16,000 people who each day take the Columbia Pike buses to work, school, shopping and entertainment spots.

“I like it, but whoa — $1 million?” said Abeshire Mehaba, as she boarded a bus bound for the Pentagon.

Arlington’s transportation officials, anticipating the public outcry, said in interviews and to the County Board last week that the bus stop is “an investment in infrastructure to support the [Columbia] Pike’s renewal.”

“When you do a prototype, you end up heavily front-loading on the costs,” said Dennis Leach, Arlington’s transportation director. “These are more like high-capacity bus or rail stops.”
New and densely developed housing is expected to be built in the area in the next 20 years, and the county is building a 4.5-mile streetcar line down Columbia Pike, from Fairfax County to the Pentagon, to help transport the new residents. The streetcar is estimated to cost about $250 million, and county officials are awaiting word from the federal government about whether it will receive funding to cover 30 percent of the cost.

But the need for buses will not abate; they will share many stops with the streetcars.
Leach said Metro handled the bus shelter’s construction, which took 18 months — longer than expected. The design was chosen after a public review process, and County Board member Chris Zimmerman (D) said multiple issues delayed the start of construction, including a lengthy environmental assessment required by the state.

In the end, the new stop cost $575,000 for construction and fabrication and $440,000 for construction management and inspections, officials said. Federal and state transportation money paid 80 percent of the costs.

Arlington is taking over construction, and Leach said he expects to “drastically reduce” the time it will take to complete it. Construction of the next bus shelter is expected to start this month.

“Our goal if at all possible is to do it for less,” Leach said. The county has budgeted $20.8 million for the remaining 23 stops, or about $904,000 for each one.

County Board member Libby Garvey (D) asked Leach for a more complete cost breakdown, saying the bus shelter is “pretty, but I was struck by the fact that if it’s pouring rain, I’m going to get wet, and if it’s cold, the wind is going to be blowing on me. It doesn’t seem to be a shelter. It doesn’t really shelter you very much . . . you can get pretty soaked in two minutes.”

Her opinion was shared by some on Columbia Pike trying it out.

“Oh my God. How much steel? How much cement? How much glass? One million? Bring them to court,” said Husain Hamid, unwinding a scarf that he had wrapped around his head in the chilly wind.

“People are hungry. People are sleeping on the street. It doesn’t need $1 million.”

“Where I come from, it sounds a bit expensive,” said Soos Attila of Budapest. “It’s very flashy, but the [next bus schedule] screen is not working. I’d prefer to have a proper shelter out of the wind, not a flashy one.”

Other visitors, from Menomonie, Wis., agreed.

“We don’t even have public transportation in Menomonie, much less $1 million to spend on it,” said Jolene Neisius, who was waiting with her son and a friend for the bus to Washington.

“You’d think for $1 million they’d have a heated bench and a restroom,” Jon Fisher said. “Where we’re from, they built a whole highway rest stop for $1.5 million.”

Long Beach transit agrees to buy buses from China


By Karen Robes Meeks, March 25, 2013

LONG BEACH — A Chinese company will build Long Beach Transit's next generation of eco-friendly buses.

The Long Beach Transit Board of Directors today voted to award a $12.1 million contract to purchase 10 all-electric buses and charging equipment to BYD Motors, Inc. a U.S. subsidiary of BYD Co. Ltd., a Chinese firm.

The contract, funded mainly with the federal government's Transit Investment for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction program, is considered one of the largest federal grants ever awarded for the deployment of electric buses and sets the stage nationally for the next step in bus technology, transit officials said. Right now, most U.S. buses run on diesel or compressed natural gas, or CNG.
BYD beat out five companies with bids ranging from $9.35 million to $12.09 million, including Proterra, which has been critical of BYD.

The transit board chose BYD's 40-foot aluminum electric bus design, which would have larger battery packs that would charge overnight and run all day with a bus would run up to 155 miles.
BYD all-electric buses would be placed in service in 2014 along the downtown Passport route, which makes stops at the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and various points up and down Pine Avenue.

The proposal has been criticized by a rival company and others who are upset that Long Beach Transit would select BYD over an American company.

South Carolina-based Proterra, which competed for the contract, called out BYD, accusing the company of providing misleading information about its bus sales and capabilities.
BYD officials dismissed Proterra's accusations as "sour grapes" for losing out on the bid.

In previous meetings with the transit board, BYD spoke of their commitment to Long Beach and added that the company is in the process of securing two buildings in Lancaster that would support the building of electric buses and hundreds of Southern California jobs.

Long Beach Transit serves 28.2 million customers in Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill and parts of surrounding areas.

Is the City Planning Politburo Performing Outreach or Just Outrage?


By Ken Alpern, March 26, 2013

ALPERN ON PLANNING - Officially, the City Department of Planning is conducting a Transit Neighborhood Plans Project to best determine the right land use for the neighborhoods surrounding the five West LA-adjacent Expo Line stations (which includes the Venice/Robertson station located at the Culver City border).

 Certainly, walkable neighborhoods, transit-oriented development and affordable housing opportunities abound as the Westside Expo Line becomes reality.  Unofficially and unfortunately, however, the "outreach" meetings are potentially as dangerous to the Westside as they otherwise should be helpful to it.

The Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan has an Environmental Scoping Meeting on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 6 p.m. at the IMAN Cultural Center (3376 Motor Ave., parking is available onsite or on Motor Ave.).  A brief presentation about the Project and the EIR process will be given at 6:15 p.m.

I strongly recommend that all transit advocates and neighborhood leaders (particularly those of us who fought for the Expo Line) attend this meeting, and provide the input for which L.A. City Planning needs.  Yet I also strongly recommend that the following questions be pointedly asked of Planning, which is increasingly behaving more like a Politburo than a proper branch of the L.A. civil service:

1) Is this true "outreach," or an official way of stating on the EIR for this Project that "outreach" was performed but, in actuality, was a session where transit-oriented development was asked for but overdevelopment was strongly cautioned against...and which is ignored in the EIR?

2) After being asked by Planning at the last outreach meeting held at the Henry Medina Parking Enforcement Building a few months ago to provide input as if there were no Casden Project next to the Exposition/Sepulveda Expo Line station being planned, and after informing Planning overwhelmingly that the Casden Project was entirely opposed by those who attended, yet after learning that Planning and the Casden developers met in private on December 27th to virtually rubber stamp the Casden Project, is the IMAN meeting just "window dressing" to show there was a token opportunity for community input (regardless of what the input was)?

3) After years of meeting with (and apparently being ignored by) City Planning in the hopes of creating an updated West LA Community Plan, why is the public now demanded to have all public input on the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan Draft EIR by April 15th?  Why was the LA Community Plan not as fast-tracked as is the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan...or is this corridor being spot-zoned to the suffering of the rest of the region, and to the suffering of all those Westsiders who fought so hard for the Expo Line?

4) Why did LA City Planning officials ignore Metro's requests for planning almost a decade ago (unlike Culver City and Santa Monica, which have been working with planners, developers and residents for over a decade...and are still working with them to find the right compromises for Expo Line station-adjacent development), yet are now rushing through this project over the protests of all the neighborhood groups, Sierra Club and pro-transit groups who otherwise expected environmentally-appropriate and sustainable development in the City of Los Angeles?

5) Why is the City of LA Planning "going it alone" without working with the LADOT and Metro on this Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan, and does it allow for the future north-south transit lines on the 405 and Crenshaw Line corridors?

6) Will the Martin Cadillac redevelopment project next to the Bundy/Olympic Expo Line station (replacing a 100,000 sq. ft. project) into a 807,000 sq. ft. residential and commercial project, be agreed to behind closed doors, regardless of what the community (even transit advocates) want, so long as the developer and the proper political connections have been made as we saw with the Casden project?  There is a Public Scoping Meeting for this project scheduled for April 3 at the Olympic Collection at 11301 Olympic Blvd. #204 from 6-8:00 pm. 

7) Is there any room left in LA for industrial zoning (where jobs and commercial development are located), now that the Exposition/Sepulveda and Bundy/Olympic projects are now being rezoned away from industrial to commercial/residential, and is the previous call from Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmember Koretz and Councilmember-Elect Bonin to create a Silicon Beach technology corridor along the Expo Line to be dropped in favor of creating some quick land and money grabs for residential developers?

8) Is there any hope for Metro, the LADOT and the City of L.A. Planning to work together to create a true West LA Community Plan Update that includes the Exposition Corridor Transit Neighborhood Plan, and which includes a Westside Regional Transportation/Transit Center at Exposition/Sepulveda, where the future-but-budgeted Expo Line and north-south 405/Sepulveda Corridor transit line will connect with the 405 and 10 freeways, and with Pico and Sepulveda Blvds.?  

9) Are there truly bicycle and pedestrian and bus amenities planned for all transit-adjacent developments in order for them to be truly transit-oriented, and not just transit-adjacent, and is the term "transit-oriented" just a buzzword shield to accommodate and facilitate overdevelopment?

10) Finally, is the rushed and nebulously-detailed method that LA Planning doing for the Expo Corridor CEQA-compliant, and will it pass legal muster, or is it just a lawsuit waiting to happen, one which will be at risk of a harsh reversal such as that we saw with the wretched decision of the L.A. City Council with the electronic/digital billboard industry?  Is this a process that L.A. City Attorneys Carmen Trutanich and Mike Feuer will want to weigh in on, as the once-venerable mass transit effort devolves into a money grab by big developers?

11) Lastly, will this effort be one that kills off the mass transit movement in much of L.A. County, and are mass transit proponents now to find relief that Measure J failed last November?

The LA City Planning Politburo has recently shown a penchant for closed-door decision making and stiff-arming law-abiding residents, and appear willing to ignore Neighborhood Councils and City Councilmembers alike.  After years of trying very hard to work with this Planning Politburo, it's very hard for Neighborhood Councils to restore faith in civil servants who are supposed to be true and faithful to the needs of the taxpaying voters of Los Angeles, but are now instruments for special interests and their political allies who have proven more than willing to break the law.

I urge all of you who believe in better transportation and planning for ourselves and for our children to attend the meeting at the IMAN cultural center on April 10, 2013, and I urge City Planning, from Michael LoGrande on down, to stop playing the role of spoiler to all who have fought so hard to improve the mobility, environment, and quality of life for current and future Angelenos.

Eyes on the Street: At Last, Red Transit Lanes on Church 


By Aaron Bialick, March 25, 2013


If you visited northern Church Street this weekend, you may have been seeing red.

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency installed red-colored transit-only lanes on Church between Duboce Avenue and 16th Street in a pilot project to test how well the treatment keeps the lanes clear of private cars. SFMTA spokesperson Kristen Holland said signs and pavement markings are also being added over the next couple of days.

These are San Francisco’s second colored transit lanes — the first are the light-rail lanes on Third Street. However, these are the first colored lanes where buses and taxis are expected to drive as well, and the agency is watching how quickly rubber tires will wear the paint off.

Most importantly, this improvement will be a boon for riders on the J-Church and 22-Fillmore who for too long have been delayed by auto drivers blocking boarding islands and turning trains. If the project is successful, Muni riders can expect more pavement treatments like these to be rolled out with the Transit Effectiveness Project in the coming years.

Glendale's "Space 134" Freeway Park Concept To Be Presented to City Council


March 25, 2013


Tomorrow night the Glendale City Council will review an initial concept presentation exploring the idea of capping the 134 freeway to create park space between Central and Glendale Avenue, similar to Seattle's Freeway Park, Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway and the proposed park over the 101 Freeway in Hollywood. Hopefully people will come speak at the meeting and send the council letters in support of a project along these lines that would create more badly needed park space in Glendale. The funding to explore the idea came from a grant front the Southern California Association of Governments, and has been led Glendale's mobility planner Mike Nilsson in conjuction with planning and urban design consultants Melendrez. Seeing something of this scale come to fruition would take many years, but the project is set up in phases that can be implemented if the support is there within the community.

Here's the staff report with the details:

Renderings of the idea and possible short and long term implementations of the concept:

In S.F., an uphill battle for a 'freeway for bikes'

 Plan to replace some parking spaces on Polk Street with bicycle lanes and parklets has many residents and lots of business owners saying 'Not so fast.'


By Maria L. La Ganga, March 26, 2013


 A cyclist passes parklets on Polk Street in San Francisco.

 A cyclist rides up Polk Street in San Francisco past people sitting in a parklet on the side of the popular street. City officials are considering removing some parking and putting in redesigned bike lanes and more parklets instead. Small-business owners and residents fear that the move could kill business in the area by depriving potential customers of parking.


SAN FRANCISCO — Russian Hill's Velvet Da Vinci gallery, which offers an array of edgy jewelry and metalwork, has been doing brisk business lately in "Save Polk St." T-shirts.

Neighboring shops have signs in their display windows warning that a "radical agenda" threatens the shopping district, where residents can get shoes fixed at Frank's, fill pantries at Real Food Co., sip a Soju cocktail at Amelie or buy a silicone sex toy at Good Vibrations.

Just what is jeopardizing the vital north-south corridor — which provides a flat route, by San Francisco standards — from the Civic Center to the bay?

An ambitious street redesign that many residents and business owners say could strip the majority of curbside parking spots from a 20-block commercial stretch, replacing them with bike lanes and miniature parks.

To urban planners and bicycle enthusiasts, Polk Street is a key to San Francisco's 4-decade-old "transit-first" policy, designed to reduce the reliance on private cars in the second-most-densely populated city in the U.S.

But to the more than 300 vocal denizens of Polk Gulch, who packed a standing-room-only neighborhood meeting last week, the proposal is a commerce killer, one that would create "a freeway for bikes," with little benefit to shops along the route.

"The agenda is that they really want to get rid of cars," Velvet Da Vinci co-owner Mike Holmes said. "There's no better way of doing that than making sure there [is] no place to park.… This is social engineering on a really crazy scale."

Officials seemed taken aback by the anger at the Middle Polk Neighborhood Assn. gathering. Every seat in the Old First Presbyterian Church's community room was filled. The crowd stood several deep along the walls and spilled out into the corridor.

Audience members jeered when Edward D. Reiskin, the city's transportation director, couldn't say how many of the 320 curbside parking spots along Polk could be taken out under the plan.

"I don't have that data," he said to loud boos, before going with "something like 170" maximum. The response from the crowd was more of the same.

Only a few of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's 12,000 members seemed to be in attendance, and they remained largely silent — "intimidated" was how several attendees described it. The bike proponents who did speak were met with disdain.

Adrienne Schroeder, a 36-year-old neighborhood resident, argued that a cycling thoroughfare was a kind of Darwinian opportunity for the century-old commercial district. To the merchants who might be forced to close their doors, she said, "We'll fill your spot if you don't survive. This is an opportunity to create more businesses."

Transportation politics have never been smooth in San Francisco, a graceful, hilly city where activism is a contact sport. A populist "freeway revolt" more than half a century ago kept the broad thoroughfares to a minimum here.

So although bicyclists decry what they say are unsafe, poorly maintained streets, many motorists say they too feel under attack. They cite the city's efforts to roll out new parking meters and the axing of free curbside parking Sundays. And they complain bitterly about what they view as bad cycling behavior.

Chris Bucchere has become Exhibit A in the argument. On Thursday, the 36-year-old cyclist and software engineer pleaded not guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter for striking and killing an elderly pedestrian in a crosswalk last year.

But amid all the disagreement, the transit-first policy is clear: "Within San Francisco, travel by public transit, by bicycle and on foot must be an attractive alternative to travel by private automobile."

To that end, 25 miles of bike paths have been created in the last three years. And officials have passed ambitious transit goals. Fifty percent of all travel within the city's 49 square miles should be by something other than private vehicles by 2018, and 20% should be via bike by 2020.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the bike coalition, noted that certain neighborhoods are well on the way. In the Mission District, she said, 15% of all commutes are by bicycle.

"Even with relatively meager investments in bicycle infrastructure, we're seeing significant increases in the number of people biking," she said. "The city has already laid out its big-picture goals. [Polk Street] is a piece of the greater goal."

During last week's meeting, Reiskin told the restive audience that improved safety for cyclists and pedestrians was key to the redesign.

The street has one of the higher rates of collisions in the city, he said. "Once a month, a pedestrian or cyclist is getting hit by a car.… That's not good for anyone."

Polk needs repaving, and a 2011 bond measure has provided money to resurface the street and redesign it at the same time. Under consideration are separated bike paths, boarding islands for buses and expanded parklets to calm traffic, among other measures.

The Metropolitan Transportation Agency has estimated that under the plan, only a small fraction of the 2,100 on-street spots within a block of Polk would be lost.

Even so, hand-made signs in local shops warn that the city wants to "remove 20 blocks of street parking.… If you want the restaurants, shops and services on Polk Street to survive, make your voice heard. Save Polk Street from this misguided experiment!"

During the raucous gathering, at least one self-described "hard-core" cyclist agreed.

"What good are bike lanes if there are no businesses to get to," asked Blair, who would only give his first name. "Polk Street is not a dangerous street to ride on unless you're an irresponsible cyclist."

But Madeleine Savit, a 61-year-old resident, countered that "many other places where these kind of initiatives have been put in — and let me say, cities all over the world can't get them in fast enough — their businesses are booming."

The audience booed.
City of Pasadena Notice of Special Joint Meeting of City Council and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich (Metro Board Chair)

Public is invited. 

Come hear what our representative has to say about the 710 tunnel.  It's time to ask him why he supports  building the 710 tunnel (alternative F-7).

Wednesday, March 27
8:00 a.m.
Pasadena City Hall
100 N. Garfield Ave.
Council Chamber Room S249 
 (room changed from basement)

Agenda Item 8:  Update on Metropolitan Transit Authority and Other Transportation Issues.  (Per Council Member Steve Madison's request there will be a discussion on the SR710.)

Public comment is limited to 3 minutes per speaker.  

There is parking at the Paseo, you can go to Gelson's later and get 1.5 hours free.

Biking Because They Must


By Sydney Paul, March 22, 2013


 Alex Aguilar does not own a car and rides 50 blocks a day to and from the Shirlington Employment and Education Center. He said he spends about $600 per year on his bicycle.

On March 14 Wilder Guzman took an over-the-handlebars spill on his bike when he swerved to avoid a girl who jumped in his way. With his right wrist wrapped tightly in an ACE bandage on March 15, he said, “My hand, it hurts a lot.”

He had injuries, but the fall ruined his bike.

“I threw my bike in the dumpster,” he said. It was a bike he had gotten from Phoenix Bikes, an Arlington nonprofit that takes in used bikes and trains teens how to repair them. Guzman had repaired that bike himself, but it just was not worth fixing again, he said.

He went to a store to look at new bikes, but the one he wanted “It was too expensive, $400,” and he does not have the money, he said.

“I need my bike for to come here,” Guzman said. He is a day laborer who finds work at the Shirlington Employment Education Center. He spoke at the center through an interpreter.

So on March 15, when a Mercury reporter spoke with him, he said he arrived at SEEC after a 35 minute walk.

“On my bike, five minutes,” he said.

Arlington's bike trails have become a mode of transportation for those who can’t--or choose not to--drive for financial reasons and for those who don’t have access to public transportation. Affordability is the clear motive for many people according to community activist Lois Athey.

Athey, who is the executive director of Tenants of Buckingham Neighborhood, said that biking is the only way many residents can get where they need to go.

“The tenants that I work with are low-income people who work in construction jobs and they have no transportation, and a lot of them don’t have licenses to drive,” she said. “That’s why they ride bikes.”

Alex Aguilar said he spends up to $600 a year in parts and repairs on his bicycle and rides 50 blocks every day to and from SEEC on S. Nelson Street, near Four-Mile Run.

“In Arlington, I go with my bicycle,” he said through an interpreter. He doesn’t own a car.

Andres Tobar, SEEC’s executive director, said Arlingtonians will start to see a lot more bikes as the weather warms up. He said that bikes are used more and more by immigrants because of the difficulties they face when getting a driver’s license.

“They’re not going to risk driving without a license,” he said.

SEEC is a day labor center, helping employees looking for work and employers looking for temporary employees to find one another. The center also offers English as a Second Language or job-related classes for the people looking for work. They also set-up bike repair, maintenance and safety seminars in Spanish.

Tobar said that the men who use SEEC use bikes a lot. They ride to the center, lock up and then get a car ride to the job site from there.

Paul Wilee, a mechanic at Phoenix Bikes said they get swamped with requests for bikes all the time.

“Our shop has donated quite a few bikes over the years to lower income organizations, like safe houses, half-way houses, rehab houses,” said Wilee. “People need a mode of transportation, and we turn around and donate some bikes to them.”

Earlier in March, a client of Arlington Street People's Assistance Network received a free bike, said Henry Dunbar, Phoenix Bikes executive director.

He said the bike shop sold 443 bikes last year and hopes to hit 500 this year. They’re on a roll with more than 60 bikes sold in January and February. Dunbar estimated about half the people plan to use the bike to commute.

“Go out on the Custis Trail on any weekday morning and you will witness a morning commute rush hour – by bike,” said Bike Arlington’s program manager, Chris Eatough. “People need mobility solutions, and the bike is the most simple, elegant, healthy mobility solution that exists.”

“Biking is fun, but the county also takes it seriously. It’s considered a valuable part of the transportation solution and fits into Arlington’s goals of a well balanced transportation picture,” he said. In the past 18 months, Arlington has increased its Capital Bikeshare stations, has painted cycling glyphs or striping onto streets to indicate that the street is a bike route, and has even painted the bike lanes green to draw attention to them at some of the more dangerous intersections.

CaBi, as Capital Bikeshare is called, will expand this year onto Columbia Pike and Shirlington where many low-income residents live. People rent bikes through CaBi by establishing an online account or paying with a credit card at the bike stations found on sidewalks throughout the county.
People can take the bike from one station and return it to another. It is intended for trips of 30 minutes or less. CaBi is a joint partnership between Arlington and the D.C. government.

Chris Hamilton, the county’s Commuter Services Bureau chief, said that about 30 new CaBi stations will be arriving this year, with the first ribbon cutting set for Thursday March 28 at the Walter Reed Community Center just off Columbia Pike.

Hamilton said his department has marketing plans aimed at Spanish speakers. They have hired a bilingual staff member and are making flyers and other materials.

Rather than “flopping down” a station and hoping people use it, Hamilton said, “I think our challenge will be, as we expand to Columbia Pike,...to see how this works. So we’ll be doing some special things in these neighborhoods to help [residents, especially Spanish speakers] understand how the system works.”

They are planning bilingual events at CaBi stations in order to orient new users.

The designated routes and trails are part of the reason biking is so popular in Arlington, Phoenix Bikes' Paul Wilee said. He moved to Arlington a year ago and described the difference in the biking environment as “astronomical.”

“Now that I’m in Arlington, I’m just biking everywhere.

“The layout is wonderful,” Wilee said. “This is the most bike friendly place that I’ve ever been to.”

Pope Francis: A New Era of “Mass” Transit?


By Drew Reed, March 25, 2013

It’s a season of firsts for the Catholic Church. Recently, the church saw the first resignation of a living pope in over 600 years, which they followed up by replacing him with the first-ever pope to come from the American continent: Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, who recently assumed as Pope Francis I. After millennia of almost exclusively European popes, the church appears to finally be getting with the times, recognizing that the majority of their faithful live in South America. At this rate, it will only be 300 more years until they accept the use of condoms.

What does all this have to do with urban transportation? It just so happens that Pope Frankie made headlines, especially in the English speaking press, for his frequent use of public transportation while serving as cardinal in Buenos Aires. The general public is left to imagine that Bergoglio’s namesake, the famously humble Francis of Assisi known for his ragtag (or vintage?) attire, would probably do the same had he been alive during modern times. In the midst of perennial scandals and declining membership in the old world, it’s a perfect bit of optics to stir up loyalty in the faithful. But is there more to it than that? Bergoglio is almost certainly not going to forego his hard earned pope mobile privileges, but there are still other ways he can promote public transportation.

I was in Buenos Aires when the news broke, and there’s no doubt that while other countries such as Chile and England mocked him as “the next hand of God” and other Maradona-based memes, Argentines were proud to have produced the next pope, despite the disappointment of some over the now famous controversy he was involved in during Argentina’s dark dictatorship years. A recent survey showed that roughly 80% of Argentines felt either “pride” or “happiness” about the new pope. Despite this, the fact that Bergoglio took public transit all the time was largely neglected in the Argentine press. His now famous biography, The Jesuit, features little more than a photo of him in the Buenos Aires subway. When I asked to see a copy of that book in a local book store, the store owner went so far as to tell me that even for important public figures in Argentina, including senators and house representatives, taking the bus is not all that uncommon. Which all goes to show how right I was with my bus article from last year. If I were any more infallible, I’d be the pope!

Historically, the church has a somewhat mixed view on the practice of designing and building cities in general. Some in the church (and some outside the church too) use the biblical example of Sodom and Gomorrah as something of a field manual for urban development. In other words, cities are inherently wicked and sinful, not to mention hotbeds of homosexuality, and the best thing to do is just wait around for them to be smoten by God into a steaming crater. Conversely, others in the church, particularly during the middle ages, have at times sought to structure cities in a productive way, creating central public squares – that naturally are right next to the central church. The role of the church within the city is discussed in an interesting article at religious site Firstthings.com.

In actual fact, today’s pope doesn’t have any direct control over transportation policy anywhere, other than being able to tell the driver of the pope mobile where to go. But there’s plenty to indicate that he does care about alleviating the ills of urban poverty. In Buenos Aires, he was famous for his visits to the notorious slums in Villa 31. His biography includes a passage where, as he walks through the neighbourhood of Puerto Madero, a former port that has been restored as a highbrow waterfront district, he observes that a meal there costs the same as the income of one resident of Villa 31 for an entire week.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio
If the pope is serious about making things better in general for cities around the world, he doesn’t have to look any further than the buses and trains he used to take in his old stomping grounds. By encouraging the faithful to push for better transportation options in their communities, he’ll be making the world a better place. And while he’s at it, he may want to think about lightening up on birth control and gay marriage too.
Tony Brandenburg: Mr. Ed - Educational Consultant


March 26, 2013

 The Petey Principle
Word is that everyone’s favorite Snappy State Senator, Carol "Lookee" Liu has made our own beloved nonentity, Mr. Ed Honowitz a paid Liaison for Education in the great state of California (click here). In fact, the Senator had a club meeting for Community Schools just the other day. My new bestest pal Bill Bogaard was even there.

“The community schools concept fosters intentional collaborations among school districts; state, county and city government; non-profits; and businesses,” said Liu, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, “By aligning these resources we can make major strides towards ensuring that every child has access to the academic, health, and social supports he or she needs to succeed.  In a time of very limited funding, an effective Community Schools alignment strategy can leverage resources to focus on the needs of the whole child and his or her family.”

Mr. Ed is moving uptown on the bottom feeder chain. This is quite a feat for the, uh,  trained art student turned photographer. It must be nice to come from privilege, and have a wife who tows the financial line.

Mr. Ed is the symbol for  everything that is wrong with education in California. He is among the elite, the type who think that they are better than the poor. As the “preferred” ruling class,  they believe it is their duty to suck money from the system, siphon off a bunch actually, and then serve the reheated scraps to the people they profess to help.

Think about it, the guy takes pictures. That is what makes him an education guru? That is his expertise for making decisions for public education and community schools? Hot damn, sign me up, there’s a camera on the iPhone in my pocket right now. I want to be an edumacation guru too. Say, “Cheese!”

Wow. Any blithering fool can become a consultant in California, if you know the right people.

I sing in a punk rock band. Using that same dynamic logic maybe Carol "Lookee" Liu can make me a rocket scientist. Yo, Senator Liu, give me some chemicals, I wanna build rockets and stuff, just like Jack Parsons. Pasadena Old School style.

Speaking of Rockets, Let’s Talk About San Bruno
Carol Lookee Liu is a taken woman. Sorry guys. Her husband is an energy guy. In fact, if you think about it, so is Kenny "Measure A" Chawkins. But Carol is not married to Ken. Apparently, neither is Barbie. So, shall we meet Mr. Lookee Liu?

Mr. Carol Liu is none other than the CA Public Utility Commissioner President Michael "Pet" Peevey. Mr. Peevey was the former CEO for Southern CA Edison. Hey, isn’t that where Mr. Kenny Chawkins works? (click here). And John Buchanan? How about John Fasana? You know, the 710 Tunnel guy?

Is it just me, or is there something about the PUSD redistricting scheme using lots of contribution money to fund a puppet regime that smells funny?

Well, no. Serving the special interests of power is what politics is all about. This situation involves real power though, like in, energy power, not just squash the human insect power.

Keep an eye on Pasadena and it’s dreams of apartment expansion. When you get to write your own ticket on power usage, costs, and taxes, you get more bang for your buck if you have more people to squeeze it out of. Make them dependent on your electric trains, and that is just gravy, isn’t it? Just another thought from the wild and crazy guy that gets yelled at to shut up in Sierra Madre town meetings and council chambers. Your town is so doomed that you don’t even know that your toss away citizens are the only ones who know which way the wind blows.

Listen. It sure seems that  our boy Mr. Liu Mike Pet Peevey - sorry ladies, he’s already taken -  gets to pretty much do whatever he wants (click here). Well then, we can bet Ed Honowitz is in good company, because no one serves his own special interests while pretending to serve the public’s interest like Mr. Ed does. It would be quite a competition of self interest.

Remember how old Pet Peevey named himself investigator of his own mistake, the one that killed people, and then determined what the findings and fine would be? That’s right, that is Mr. Liu and his method of operation. His power, wink wink, knows no bounds.

Look. It is totally consistent with Ed Honowitz who determined the outcome of the Brandenburg child situation - the same one he was involved in. Honowitz knew the outcome prior to it being written. I wouldn’t doubt if he had to help that poor sap Steve Miller write the damn thing.

If you have a minute, take it to sign this petition (click here) to remove Peevey. It is 62 signatures shy. For an added bonus, put in the comments that Ed Honowitz’s best pal Tony Brandenburg sent you.

Flying the Mr. Ed Freak Flag
The  Pasadena Education Network (aka, “PEN. We’re the Other Guys!”) is also flying the Mr. Ed freak flag.  They chose to make him their poster boy for parent leadership. That must mean he’s a great parent leader. He helps bully autistic kids out of schools, and that is a quality the PUSD Board of Education supports, so it must be worthy of the PEN, too.

Listen. For $75 a pop, you can go to the PEN Wine Festival, chug vino, and even rub shoulders with the upper crust of Pasadena Dems and ACTors. It’s like a DEMitasse ball, only it’s with wine. Maybe even some of the good stuff.

As appealing as it is to drop $75 a pop, go in, get smashed with a bunch of snobs, and easily underclass them all. I find that a certain charm can certainly be had sitting out on the curb with a bottle of Maddog 20/20. Hell, I could even upscale it a bit with some Strawberry Hill. I know that would really impress the ladies.

Enchante, madame.

Intermission: Let’s Talk about Edwin Diaz for a Moment
That is a great deal of heady information, I know. For the people who need a quick break to reload their coffee, take it now during this intermission. Never let it be said that I don’t think of others. That brings me to this intermission topic, Mr. Edwin Phonefixer Diaz.

As you know, Big Eddy D.’s big delivery to the PUSD was this: He fixed the telephones. It was what was considered his single greatest achievement. Which is why I am sorry to report that the actual phone fixer was Gary Phonefixer Carnow. This makes perfect sense since it would take a technician to fix something that complicated. That means Eddy D. didn’t exactly do anything at all except smile really big at the wine sipping meetings and other photo ops.

Props to Carnow, and a Bronx Cheer for Eddy Payday Diaz.

An Ego is a Terrible Thing to Waste
Still, there has to be a better way to honor Honowitz. His ego should never outshine the honors heaped upon him. It would hurt his ego. We don’t want to deflate that. Imagine how long it took him to puff it up.

What do I think? Why, it is funny that you should ask.

I think we should honor Mr. Ed in ways that truly serve his needs. Something more permanent than the awards he’s been given already. Awards, as I have already shared, are what are given to the ineffective for mediocrity. Honowitz needs way more than that. Otherwise he might come back for more honors. We gotta send him packing with so many honors, and celebrating how little he did, that he won’t come back.

Listen. As tempting it is to name a building after him, like the Sierra Madre Elementary School did for the former school principal Gayle "I’m glad I live on the other side of Michillinda AvenueBluemel, another Pinocchio Auditorium in the district won’t do. No, no, no.  Simply naming a barn at the John Muir Farm wouldn’t serve the ego of our favorite marble mouthed maven of mendacity. Think about it. The Mr. Ed Barn. It is so, totally lacking.

No. A hypocrite as spectacular as Honowitz should never be canonized in a way so mild. His ego would never recover, and it might force him to talk on, and on, and on ... to the point that he might accidentally immolate himself.

I think we could honor him in some of the ways Kim Jong Il was honored, such as this page filled with pictures of the former supreme leader Kim Jong Il Looking at Things (click here). That was before he died, of course. Though, I must admit that, in a way, the idea of Kim Jong Il still be escorted around to look at things might show advanced reverence to the former supreme leader.

That’s right, we could have a site full of our former board leader just looking at things. We could call it, Mr. Ed Looking at Things, and we could fill it with images of the brayish one, jaw wide open going, “gah!” and just, you know, looking at things.

Or his memory could live on forever, in celluloid grace (click here). There are no limits for our new Pasadena, aka Extremely East Hollywood star. I have seen how versatile he is (click here).

Educational Consultants, Screwing Public Schools One Conference at a Time
What is it that makes a consultant worth their salt? That is my question for today because I see and attend workshops by consultants all the time. I bring this up because consultants are paid thousands of dollars - sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars - by school districts in America every single day. But what do they do, and how is their quality actually measured?

Check it out, they are not. That’s right, it is simply private enterprise. Sure, you can call it a non-profit. All the smart guys do, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t profit from it. That just means you can use loopholes to get the breaks that hard working honest people can’t use.

Educational Consultants, especially the good ones (whatever that means since their is no industry standard) are simply the ones that market their wares best. All you need is an idea, a marketing firm, and some networking skills. Networking skills are critical because, like everything else in a corrupt, broken system - it’s not what you do, it’s who you know.

Ask Mr. Ed. Last month he had the City Council of Pasadena falling over itself because he brought in Comrade Judy Chu to pitch for Community Schools. Community Schools are the latest catch phrase for drumming up taxpayer pity taxes to fund a whole slew of social programs that previously failed, all under a nice new umbrella.

Old wine in a new bottle, right? Hey, maybe there’s more of a tie-in to that PEN Wine Sloshing party for Ed Honowitz than meets the eye.

Revisiting Condoms, Condos, Community Schools; Drugs Bad, Veggies Good
On Tuesday, February 20, 2013, I made a brief reference, and questioned the Pasadena City Council and the Pasadena Unified Board of Education if they knew anything about the Oakland Community School (click here). My point that night was this: I wanted to show everyone in the room that they didn’t know what was being discussed, what its history was, or where it came from. I believe I succeeded. I was an amusing distraction.

What was served on the Pasadena City Council floor was simple. Because Honowitz brought the mess to the table, it was swallowed hook, line, and sinker. It didn’t matter if it was an Edsel, or a Mercedes. It was going to be driven off the showroom floor either way.

After all, Mr. Ed brought in Congresswoman Judy Chu, and she gave an entire presentation on the topic. That must mean something! I’m not sure what, but it must’ve been important because she’s a Congresswoman and came to us all the way from Monterey Park (click here) to talk. I mean, she was even on the California Tax Board! That must mean something to someone somewhere! Color me impressed.

Imagine all of the gas she must have used! Don’t worry, your pretty little head. It was written off.

Worship at the Altar of the Community Schools. Or, The Petey Principle Revisited
Honowitz needs to worship at the altar of the Community Schools, and so do you. After all, his future hangs on the passing of these programs. A bit later Peter Dreier waltzed up to plug his baby IIPK - Invest in Pasadena Kids (click here).

Petey worked on this baby a long time. His non-partisan, non-profit group first came to my attention when they were selling little stickers to local Pasadena businesses in a harebrained program called Buy in PUSD (click here), a total failure concocted with Pasadena Educational Foundation (click here). The idea was that you and I, Joe Spender and Josie Shopper would see that sticker and we would go there to spend our money.

Among the big donors in Buy in PUSD is the Seville Group, Inc (click here), as well as picture takers for all of the schools, LifeTouch National Schools Studios (click here). Sadly, their kick off party would be some of the best business Bob’s Big Boy did over on Del Mar Avenue (click here). Apparently all of the PUSD staff from Hudson Avenue were eating someplace else. I assume somewhere healthier, and more copacetic with the Healthy Food folks.

Like lots of crappy programs, Buy In PUSD didn’t pan out like one would have hoped, not that anyone can really blame IIPK or PEF for that. People generally don’t want to invest in failing business ideas, even one that is supposed to raise revenues for schools - unless there is a bunch of safeguards. Investments need fresh cash flow to do that.  Of course, you never did hear too much about that part.

Fear not, any failure can be resurrected under a new name. It is called restructuring. That is how the guys downtown do it, so it would follow that a non-profit would as well.

One of the howlers at the Joint Pasadena City/PUSD meeting was just that. Honowitz made a pitch to weave the less used programs (that is code for failures) and work them up into better outreach (that is code for repackaging them) so that more funding won’t be asked for (and that is code for right now before he can write up a grant to get a piece of it).

You can bet that you will hear much more from Honowitz and Mrs. Honowitz-Pais (click here) as the Community Schools Program (click here) becomes deeply intertwined with the Pasadena City scheme. Oops, I mean plan. The accolades heaped onto LAEP (click here) come from none other than the Huffington Post. Search Peter Dreier, Ed Honowitz, and Huffington Post and you’ll see what I mean. For even more super duper good times, Google Ed Honowitz and Brandenburg. Pals-4-Ever.

The Pasadena Plan for Poverty
It is a given that the PUSD and Pasadena City Council have a demonstrable need for poverty written into their General Plan, and anticipates its growth for the next twenty years.

The Pasadena General Plan (click here) will go down in recent history as one of the most expensive, cost ineffective collaborations between local government and a school district ever to devise a “progressive” plan to fleece local taxpayers, coming and going.

That is what Community Schools anticipates. It is a plan for poverty, a plan for failure, and a framework for the funding of a Social Engineering Bureaucracy. Then your health, both mental and physical, as well as the dynamics of your family, shopping, travel, and recreation can all be superseded by people who know what you want and need more than you do.

I suppose everyone deserves their day in the sun, even if it’s the desert sun, and Ed Honowitz was basking in the glory. Most of the world class city council were so smitten by Comrade Chu’s visit to the world class city that they didn’t see how badly they were being bamboozled by Honowitz’s very own Community Schools Scheme. Oh, I mean, plan.

Or maybe they did.

I am certainly glad that the spirit of Martin Chuzzlewits lives on.  The smart guys have structured such a plan for us all, and anticipate a utopia that is not only free from Soma, but is everything that a Skinnerian Walden could, and would, provide.

A Letter from Mary to the PUSD
We get 300 page views a week on our Censure Honowitz post. There are people who expect this to happen. Will there ever be a censure of Ed Honowitz put through?

A Response from her Spouse
Haha. Good one.