Posted in Around Town, Let's Get Visual

Public Park Outsourced to Pasadena’s District 6

It’s been a quiet week in Pasadena’s District 1, my (adopted) hometown. No new graffiti to report. Nobody shot or stabbed to my knowledge. Some entity called the Northwest Education Center promises they are “Coming Soon” to the northeast corner of Lincoln and Montana. Anyone know anything about this? I don’t…

The weather’s gotten hot. My weed-filled yard has crisped right up, causing my bare feet to ouch-ouch-ouch as I retrieve my where-did-all-the-pages-go Pasadena Star-News. A related question: Where did all the news go?

Folks over in the Linda Vista area of District 6 are complaining that their kids will have a place to play kids who don’t look like their kids will show up and demand to play. Underbelly has it here. For some reason, the PSN doesn’t mention the Linda Vista/ Annandale Association’s perspective on the matter. For the record, they are pro-park.

I’m pro-park too, but I sure wish the new park were in an area of town with more population density. Yeah, I know…there’s no affordable land. That’s why this particular park is in an upper-income area of Pasadena at the site of a closed-down public school. Apparently the folks in Linda Vista not only eschew public school, they don’t even want the empty, unused space to be put to any good use.

Barney Melekian has gone with the K.I.S.S. principle and decided not to toss his hat into the Pasadena City Manager melee selection process. Smart Barney. The presidency of the California Police Chiefs Association sounds like a position of great influence, one in which he can use his expertise very effectively. I’m all for letting the experts hang out with those who can most benefit from their input. Besides, there’s that looming public safety problem over at that new park in Linda Vista.

– * _ * _ * –

Took The Scout to see the new Chinese garden at the Huntington over the weekend. He had a bit of anticipation because the folks at the Huntington are film-friendly, and you just never know when you’ll need a location with Asian influence.

“It doesn’t rock my world,” The Scout said.

Why the disappointment? He doesn’t like the color of the paint they used. It is too Hershey-brown. It is shouty. The Scout would have chosen a brown like the one used on the planters (look closely).

It’s technical. It’s aesthetic. The Good Eye is what makes The Scout the ‘Motion Picture Location Specialist’ that he is.

Posted in Issues

The Accident Gets Worse

You may have seen my post about how The Scout was in an auto accident.  He was in very heavy traffic eastbound on the 101.  He pulled into the number one lane in front of a car that was at a dead stop.  He used his directional signal.  (I have been nagging gently reminding him on this one for years…)

A motorcycle came up from the rear and hit The Scout’s trusty steed on the left rear tail light.  Though The Scout had looked in his rearview mirror, he never saw the motorcyclist.  The motorcyclist was doing that classic thing they do…drive in between the lanes.  All the passenger vehicles were going 3-5 mph and the motorcyclist estimated that he was doing 25-30 mph.

Is it legal for motorcycles to drive between lanes like that?  It must be, because we got the police report yesterday and they determined that the accident is The Scout’s fault.  They said he did an unsafe lane change, or more specifically that he wasn’t driving in a lane.

Actually, that’s what the motorcycle was doing—driving in between lanes.  So we’re over here scratching our heads and WTFing.  We’d always heard that if you get rear-ended, it’s the other guy’s fault.

If anyone has any recommendations on how to proceed (fight it?  crumble like a biscuit?) I’d appreciate the input.

Posted in Around Town, Cool Stuff

Comments on Pasadena City Council: 7 April 2008

First, my offering for those for whom my Pasadena-related posts are the equivalent of a permanent snooze button. Thanks to our friends at Nokia, 10 May 2008 is Pangea Day. From the web site:

One of Pangea Day’s goals is to change the way we think about other countries. What would you think of Kenyans singing the Indian national anthem? Australians singing the Lebanese national anthem? Japanese singing the Turkish national anthem? French people singing the US anthem? Watch this anthem series and see for yourself what hundreds of thousands of people are talking about on YouTube.

NB: Actually, not that many people have seen the videos yet, but they are pretty cool.

– – – – – – – –

Okay, my comments for the comfy-chair clan:

First, on the smoking thing. We all know that smoking is not good for you. Just google “bladder cancer” and look at the Mayo Clinic’s website (“Smoking is the greatest single risk factor for bladder cancer”). That being said, I’m not in favor of passing ordinances that we don’t can’t enforce. Do we really want our law enforcement folks handing out citations at Paseo Colorado for smoking? Frankly, I’d rather have them help identify all the school-aged kids who aren’t in school (truants and drop-outs) so we can pry the guns out of their cold, dead hands and get them into vocational education or something.

Before I launch into the Youth Development and Violence Prevention Committee, a few words about the visceral experience of watching Pasadena City Council from the comfort of my couch. I watched intently for 90 minutes.  When it was over, I felt like I was in a fog. The only consistent voice of clarity is Sid Tyler. Mr. Tyler is on point and manages to say things in three sentences or less. Perhaps that is because he is the only council member with significant management experience.

It’s a miracle I can watch at all, because The Scout practically goes ballistic when Channel 55 (KPAS) is on. Gin and tonic in hand, he circles the room spouting, “Did Bill just say ramp up? Did he say ramp up?”

Now on to the Youth Development and Violence Prevention Committee. I’m still unclear on the goal of the group. ‘Let’s have a committee and produce a report!’ seems to be the scope of the thing.

Accomplishments of the committee to date (in the order presented in the Staff Report, with comments by yours truly):

  • They showed up to the meetings – Such an accomplishment! Oy.
  • Violence is down – Just a wild guess here…that is NOT related to the fact that these meetings happened.
  • They have a “deeper knowledge” of issues, and community members stepped forward to offer help. – And request money, even though the committee had none to give.
  • Young people were given direct access to leaders – Because apparently no one has bothered to tell young people about public comment at city council meetings. Or how they can e-mail city council members.
  • The City and County talked to each other – Probably one of the better things to come out of this process. But shouldn’t intra-governmental communication be de rigueur?
  • Numerous programs received favorable exposure – Because if we read about it in the public record, it must be good.
  • Communication with the State Legislator’s Office is happening – Not sure which city department is having this communication or what it is about.
  • The Neighborhood Outreach Worker program is effective – Can you toss me some data to support this, please? Quantitative? Qualitative? Anything besides comments from someone who is employed by the program? What is the plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the $130,000 the city invested in this program?
  • There are “best practices” models out there that we could use – But we need to hire a consultant to package it for us in a report which we will fawn over and then promptly place on a shelf. Then another kid will be killed, and we’ll go back to hand-wringing and head-scratching. Then we’ll have another ad hoc committee!

The Scout says people will be mad at me for the above (so nice to have a spouse and a devil’s advocate in one sexy package), so I’ll try to say something positive here. I’m glad that community folks got together with other community folks to talk about the good things that are happening. It wasn’t realistic to expect this group of people to come up with a “plan or set of recommendations” or “develop a sustainable community-wide policy” in six months, so I can’t blame them for not doing that. It takes six months just to get disparate committee members working from the same general body of knowledge. That may have been achieved. (I’d have to administer a pre- and post-test to know for sure.)

What they wanna do now: With thanks to all ya’ll who participated in the old ad hoc committee (Keep in touch! Don’t be a stranger!), the City Council would now like to form a new ad hoc committee composed of four council members who will work with city staff (from Police, Human Services & Rec, and Public Health) to come up with a “master youth plan.”

“A budget of $50,000 is being recommended that will assist staff in carrying out these responsibilities.” Staff in which department? Will the money be divided between departments? We all know how interdepartmental money-grubbing gets the focus off the issue faster than anything. Will the money be used for a consultant? Maybe. There was a lot of discussion about the $50,000 that ended in general muddiness. Is this $50,000 part of the $40,000 already approved as matching funds? So far, only Pasadena City College has offered $10,000, so the city is only in for $10,000. Oh what the hell, let’s just approve it…it’s only $50,000. No line item breakdown, no idea which department(s) gets this money, and no idea how much is going to a consultant.

On With The Blather:

1. In previous posts I’ve mentioned The Pasadena Policy on Children, Youth and Families 2006 Update, which was adopted by Pasadena City Council one year ago (March 2007). This isn’t last year’s news. Oh no, this puppy’s got it all: Historical context, policy recommendations, and the recommendation that the city “create a children, youth and family coordinator staff position with responsibility for ongoing implementation of the Policy.” This is a fairly comprehensive document. Could this document be the foundation for the “youth master plan”? Or is this document the youth master plan? Is there anything missing that we need to add?

As he summed up the discussion, Mayor Bogaard said that the staff working group would be assuming “significant responsibility” and he hinted at adding FTEs. See previous paragraph.

What is the participation of the Human Services and Recreation Department in the current process? Why hasn’t the Human Services Commission been included in a meaningful way? Why can’t I find a link to recent Human Services Commission meetings with agendas and minutes on the city’s web site???

You know what I want in a city manager? I want a city manager that will hold department heads and other staff accountable. I want an efficiency expert. If there is dead wood flotsaming and jetsaming around, let’s take care of it.

2. A word about collaboration, the buzzword of the nonprofit world for the last two decades (at least). The idea of multi-agency collaboration is lovely. Lots of similar groups are working on similar issues: Shouldn’t they be working together?

The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. It makes sense for organizations to join together in a learning community, like Northwest ECHO. But as Mayor Bogaard pointed out at last night’s council meeting, “maintaining working relationships” with the big agencies is not best accomplished by meeting every two weeks to simply share information about who is doing what. (Insert discussion about meaningful collaboration here.)

It would be nice for someone to keep a running inventory of who is doing what. I nominate the Human Services and Recreation Department. Oh wait, don’t they do this already? Anyone? Anyone? Since face time is important, I’d propose one big quarterly meeting during which everyone can give an update about what they’re doing (aka: what they just got funding to do).

3. The public safety issue – This is significant. Parents/guardians have every reason to be wary. When young people say they are afraid to leave their homes, that is a rational response to a real situation. Heck, The Scout does not like it when I walk from the bus stop back home in the dark, and we live in the good part of the bad part of town. I have empathy for the police–they thought they were signing up to fight the bad guys and it is ever so much more complicated than that. They didn’t know they were going to be responding to social crises as well.

Big Questions: We have many non-profits doing all kinds of good work. How can the city support this work? Does the city have a particular role as a catalyst? Are there things the city could be doing that are difficult for non-profits to do? What kinds of programs should be city-sponsored?

Last night, at the beginning of his summation, Mayor Bogaard said, “I don’t want to disagree with anything that’s been said.” That’s our Bill. My point is that we need to be clearer about what we want at the end of this process.

Posted in Around Town

Charter’s on the Block

There are guys wearing hardhats climbing up the power poles across the street. They are Charter Communications sub-contractors. They are removing the cable that upstart Altrio put in. The guy tells me that the cable he is removing is more advanced than the cable he is leaving behind. Thanks, Charter. Nice to know how you’re using my/our money.

The guy I was talking to was pro-DirecTV. Gee, buddy, you’re working for someone who has a contract with Charter. Maybe talking up the competition isn’t such a good idea.

Anyway, back to DirecTV. They do have the Tennis Channel (which I would love to have), but I’m relying on the experience of those who have taken that path then turned back.

Posted in Cool Stuff, Issues

I Am a Winner!

Winning isn’t everything, but it is nice from time to time.

1. Last week I got a call, and yesterday I got the letter.

Dear Valued Gelson’s Customer,

Per our telephone conversation last week, it is with pleasure to notify you are a winner from a recent enter to win contest at Gelson’s Markets for A Snow Valley Getaway. (sic)

The prize awarded to you is lift tickets for two (2) to Snow Valley in Running Springs, CA and a case of vitaminwater and vitaminwater winterapparel. (more sic and emphasis theirs) ARV: $225 (Actual retail value may vary depending on price of vitaminwater and rate changes for accommodations, equipment rental and lift tickets. An difference between stated approximate retail value and actual value of prize will not be awarded.)

To claim your prize, simply fill out the attached Affidavit of Eligibility/Publicity Release, which must be notarized. (emphasis mine)

The good news is that the lift tickets are good through 2009, and The Scout loves to ski.

There’s a gob of legalese on the Affidavit of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release. I have to swear that I will never sue hold harmless Gelson’s Markets, Arden Group Inc. (no idea who they are), Energy Brands, Glaceau, Vitaminwater, Snow Valley, and their respective affiliates, subsidiaries, blah blah blah against any liability, claims. losses and damages arising out of my participation in the Promotion or any Promotion-related activities and the acceptance, use, misuse or possession of any prize received in connection with this promotion.

Basically, this is one of those “prizes” that will end up costing money. Once I factor in the gas, ski rental, etc. it’ll add up. Also, Running Springs is a bit far for a day trip. The ideal is to go up the night before, ski all day, spend that night on the mountain, and then go home. That way you’re not driving at all on the ski day. Note how the ideal costs the most.

If I get the case of vitaminwater in time, I’ll bring it to the bloggers’ picnic on April 19. (Sunnyslope Park in Pasadena, 10 am – 3 pm) Bloggers AND READERS are invited. Bring something to share.

Moving on…

2. Remember how I got an e-mail from Ann Lau of the Visual Artists Guild telling me that I won the “Turn Your Back” photo contest? Actually, I came in second. But guess what? They sent me a check for $500!

Here’s a bit from the letter:

As you know, the Visual Artists Guild is dedicated to promoting human rights internationally. We have been greatly encouraged by all of the support we have received from community leaders and residents of California to oppose the propaganda tool that Beijing is using in the great City of Pasadena through the use of a parade float to kick off the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Beijing has broken its promise to improve human rights in China that it made before receiving the bid to host the 2008 Olympics.

Enclosed please find a check for $500.00.

We wish you the very best and encourage you to continue to promote respect for human rights.

Frankly, this is humbling. I really appreciate how the VAG (gotta love that acronym) went to Pasadena City Council meetings week after week to protest the float. They brought much-needed attention to an important issue. Fellow bloggers, I’m sure you are glad you can blog freely without ending up in prison like Hu Jia (Chinese Blogger Sentenced to Three Years for Subversion, Libel).

Anyway, here’s the photo if you missed it.

Posted in England, My Stuff

Naming Names

How I Got My Name:  I am named after Ava Gardener.  She was in a film called “Mogambo” with Clark Gable.  Her character was “Honey Bear Kelly.”  Gable called her “Kelly” throughout the picture.  (Sadly, ‘Honey Bear’ was omitted by my parents.)

My dad was 22 years old when he saw the film.  He was an enlisted Air Force guy in England.  He was so enthralled with Ava he promised himself he would have a Kelly some day.  Many years later, he did.

How I Got My Middle Name:  I have two.  This is about the first one.  The “L” one.  The English hate the Irish, so my middle name is Laura.  My English Cornish great-grandmother was very upset when she heard that my parents planned to name me Kelly.  So to make her feel better, they named me Laura after her. 

They tell me it helped her.

How did you get your name?