We miss Jim
While I didn’t always agree with Jim Chase’s column comments (I usually did), his creative writing, wry humor and “take” on events local, national or personal were always fun to read. Jim, hope you enjoy a little break, but keep writing and perhaps we’ll see you around town.
Also, thanks to Mike Lawler for his wonderful history columns on our Crescenta Valley.
Open Letter to GUSD Board
Dear President Boger, Board Members, and Supt. Sheehan,
I have listened to the discussions and attended the meetings regarding the transfer of Sagebrush students to the La Cañada [Unified] School District.
Most comments favor the transfer though this is a result of a well-organized and concerted effort by La Cañada residents to bring this issue to a conclusion.
Those of us on the La Crescenta side, and especially those of us within the Mountain Avenue/Monte Vista boundaries, are equally impacted by a transfer of Sagebrush students. Our families are impacted, our property values are affected, our neighborhood changes . . . children who now play and go to the same schools get re-assigned. If this all sounds familiar, it’s the very same comments which galvanized La Cañada Sagebrush residents.
While the [Glendale Unified School] District has done a wonderful job of working with the La Cañada School District, providing open forums for discussion and input from the community and managed to supply us with a wealth of material to describe the transfer details, it has failed to give La Crescenta parents and residents a specific plan of what will happen to Mountain Avenue and the resulting impact on our other neighborhood schools and families.
We deserve to know. La Cañada residents know what to expect . . . those of us in La Crescenta don’t. Perhaps that’s the real reason why the board is not receiving feedback from La Crescenta residents. How do you expect us to comment when the board is not sure of the direction it will take our schools? Give us specifics, a plan, and La Crescenta will comment on what you propose.
Just a personal comment . . . there is a general feeling in our area that Mountain Avenue must remain a traditional neighborhood school. Anything less is an “assault” on our community. Also, there is concern regarding the future of the park to the east. It is viewed as a safety net for emergency evacuation of students and there is concern that a “locked gate” on the bridge leading to and from the park will further divide our two communities. And even worse, the park gets sold and becomes something other than a park and safety valve.
Finally, our La Crescenta community feels there is a rush by the board to get this done. The La Cañada details are worked out but our side is not.
It was not well received by our community to find two board members declaring their support for the transfer prior to the call for a vote and when details are still being determined.
My suggestion: hold off from voting until you can give La Crescenta residents a specific and detailed plan . . . even if it takes a few more months.
More Info Needed on Proposed Territory Transfer
I reside in La Crescenta and have kids attending Mountain Avenue Elementary and Rosemont Middle schools. I attended Tuesday’s meeting and appreciated your candid comments.
I’m personally not opposed to the territory transfer to LCUSD as long as Mountain Avenue Elementary is able to permanently secure access rights to the Ocean View Park [across the bridge]. Based on the comments I heard Tuesday night, I am extremely concerned about the permanent accessibility and use of the Park after the six-year phase-in period. Many families at Mountain Avenue are also distressed at the potential loss of the park.
The Ocean View Park serves as a secondary drop off and pick up location for families living in Sagebrush and Montrose. In the event Sagebrush does transfer to LCUSD, Mountain Avenue will still have a need for this secondary drop off/pick up location. It will continue to serve the families that live west of Briggs Avenue and south of Foothill Boulevard.
The secondary drop off/pick up option is very important to Mountain Avenue. But the most important reason for permanent use of the Park is safety. Many GUSD schools struggle with traffic issues and Mountain Avenue is no exception. Our school is doubly problematic because we are located on a cul-de-sac. With one way in and out, traffic is always a challenge, even with the use of the park. The streets surrounding Mountain Avenue are narrow and sidewalk spaces are limited. Kids don’t always follow pedestrian rules when crossing and, unfortunately, not all drivers are as vigilant as they should be. On Mondays, congestion worsens due to garbage pick up. The park alleviates part of the congestion we face on Mountain Avenue. If the ability to drop off/pick up at the park is lost, the added congestion of kids and vehicles will greatly increase the chance of an accident.
Seeing is believing, so I invite you all to view for yourself. Come either at drop off or pick up at 8:15 a.m. or 2:55 p.m., Monday, Wednesday or Friday or 1:25 p.m. on Thursdays. Please be mindful that the park is alleviating some of the drop off/pick up volume when assessing the traffic.
Furthermore, should a fire or natural disaster occur or (God forbid) someone wanting to cause mortal harm gain access to the school, students and staff need more than one egress. Without multiple exit options, students and staff are at a greater risk. We do not want to create a situation where they become “sitting ducks.” Emergency evacuation plans recommend more than one exit point; student and staff must have another exit strategy.
Mountain Avenue needs the park. It’s as simple as that. I implore you all to include a Deed Restriction provision for permanent use by Mountain Avenue as part of your negotiations. Deed restrictions “bind” land. Typically, a deed restriction is created in a document that is recorded with the county registrar of deeds records where the property is located. Most deed restrictions are permanent and “run with the land.” The Deed Restriction should state that the park will be used for pick ups/drop offs as well as a variety of other school sponsored activities. This will protect future Mountain Avenue students and staff.
As one of your many duties as board members, you are obligated to advocate the best and safest options for our students and staff. As such, I would consider it a miscarriage of your duties if you fail to consider the safety ramifications of Mountain Avenue losing access to the park. I, and many others, deem permanent park access vital and absolutely necessary!
I reiterate my invitation to [visit] Mountain Avenue to “experience” our traffic/pedestrian challenges.
More on Territory Transer
If they want to go, let them go. If the homeowners from the Sagebrush area want to be LCUSD, they should be able to do so. Why keep someone who no longer wants to stay? Yet, if the kids were taking a vote, would they choose to tear their world apart? I wonder.
One swift move. The transfer, should it be approved, should take place in one swift swoop, and be over with, at least from the children’s end. Yes, both school districts need to figure out the logistics, overcrowding and vacancy respectively and that takes time. But the slow phasing out of kids maintains open all kinds of options to the ones leaving, and none to those who are staying. If you can leave, you might choose to stay with your friends. Yet, if you belong here, you have no say as to whether your friends should stay with you or not. If the leaving was not so accommodating to the advantage of those kids leaving, maybe the parents would not be so in favor of the move and, most importantly, our children should not have to be dragged through a long phase of: “We do not want to be with you anymore.”
I know, harsh, but very real; otherwise we would not be having this conversation. Or maybe it is not about all of the kids and all of their friends and all of their families and all of their education.
Do not sell our green spaces! Green space and bridge should remain GUSD property, open and used and enjoyed by all. Mountain Avenue Elementary, being a dead end street, should maintain the pedestrian access open at all times; in particular, if there be an emergency, but also because I am sure that cross-border friendships will survive no matter what.
Be careful what you wish for. It is rather sad and unfortunate that this zone of shared and common interests between our two communities that have allowed friendships and bonds to be established is on the road to truly becoming a boundary.
In the interest of all those who are served, I hope that LCUSD and GUSD will be able to remain in touch with the communities they serve and figure out the logistics, finances and legalities of the whole matter, keeping the best interest of all the children and families in mind.
Cheers to The Pops
I had the pleasure of joining my sister for the first Glendale Pops performance of the season on April 12. She has often spoken highly of the orchestra and conductor Matt Catingub. I’ve been to similarly billed shows in the past, but what I experienced at the Alex Theatre renewed my appreciation for the joy top-quality live music can bring.
From the first song, the energy lifted the audience and brought a smile to the face of everyone in attendance. It was fun and up-tempo, with Catingub breathing new life into some favorites from Chicago, Steely Dan and Blood, Sweat & Tears.
This letter, however, is not meant simply to pour praise onto the Glendale Pops most recent performance. Rather, it is in response to the less that enthusiastic attendance at the show. This concert should have been sold out and the fact that it wasn’t showed a lack of appreciation for the growing cultural offerings in our community.
I certainly won’t miss the upcoming Pops events, Hidden Treasures on May 10 (for Mother’s Day!) and June 21 featuring celebrity Martin Short. I hope CV Weekly readers will help fill the theatre to capacity.
You can have a great time at the Hollywood Bowl, Disney Concert Hall, or at any number of other venues around Los Angeles. For my money, the quality of programming at the Alex rivals them all.
Suggests That Folks ‘Get Over It’
I just read the article about Camp Tuna. I also just saw an article regarding the lawsuit in Glendale over the Comfort Women statue. In Glendale the suit demands the removal of the statue because it makes a Japanese woman uncomfortable. The Camp Tuna article and many others regarding the subject expound on how badly the U.S. treated the Japanese. I am the first to agree with that, but we did not put them in trucks and take them out to the desert to be shot.
During the end of WWII, the Japanese military took U.S. prisoners and put them in ships to be sent to Japan for slave labor. That was bad enough, but again it was even worse. The Japanese Merchant Navy did not mark the ships with a Red Cross symbol or the letters POW. [They were] slow moving transports with the flag of Japan and no special markings to indicate their human cargo.
Well, the U.S. Navy submarines got a few of them with great loss of life. It is suggested that the Snook and Shark II were lost because after the sinkings, their commanders saw Americans in the water and surfaced to rescue them. That exposed the subs to the Imperial Japanese Navy which could still shoot straight.
Why has there never been any hue and cry about that mistreatment of U.S. prisoners? Not a word. Total silence. All would be lost if it were not for the Internet. I have attached three links [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arisan_Maru and http://dg-adbc.org/content/?s=415&s2=527&p=527&t=The-Hell-Ships-of-WWII and www.west-point.org/family/japanese-pow/ArisanFiles-2/S.htm]. One lists the S portion of the roster for the Arisan Maru. On that list you can find Shoup, William H, 2Lt, U.S. Army. That was my father. My name changed when my mother remarried and I was adopted.
My response to all of these people is: Get over it. The war is over! Stop being so thin-skinned. Nowhere is there a document that says we have a right to not be offended or be made uncomfortable. I made peace with what happened back in the ’50s. I put it all behind me and moved on. I just now got sick and tired of all of the whining about the others and never a mention of the prisoners’ treatment by Japan. Nobody made a comedy about a Japanese prisoner of war camp. It was only a German one, “Hogan’s Heroes.” The men of the Hell Ships deserved to be remembered and memorialized.
Financial Crisis Upon Us … Grant Money Funding
Our [Glendale] City Council likes to brag how we are spending millions of dollars on parkland services. But nearly 90% of the parkland money comes from grants by the county, state or federal government. Thus only 10% comes from the city general fund.
With over 63% of the city’s budget going for just the police and fire union employees for their salaries and pension benefits plus about 84% of our pension obligations being unfunded, our council will continue to count on using grant money to fund essential needed city services.
Glendale is a member of the California Public Retirement System and the taxpayers’ guarantee 7.5% returns on the CALPERS investments. Then, when the retirement system fails to meet their goals, Glendale citizens are on the hook for the lost investments. In 2012, CALPERS only made 1% return on their investments and Glendale taxpayers were on the hook for the 6.5% differences of approximately $30 million. In 2011, Glendale taxpayers had to make up over $26 million.
Fire fighters and police officers, after 30 years of service at age 50 or 55, can receive 90% of their last year’s salary as their annual pension for life.
With the current financial crisis looming, I believe we should join the cities of La Cañada and Malibu and, on a trial basis, have the county perform our fire and police services at a significant savings. Furthermore, the County of Los Angeles pension plan does not put the taxpayers on the hook for any investment losses.
Editor’s note: Mike Mohill is a candidate for Glendale City Council.