From Assemblymember Mike Gatto
“Library 2.0” – Extending the Shelf Life of Our Libraries

I recently took a tour of a wonderful classroom in La Crescenta where students were learning (gasp!) how to make things with their hands – and their minds. The students were not only getting valuable, hands-on experience to prepare them for the jobs in tomorrow’s economy, but they were building neat things like robots, and programming in advanced computer code. As I left, the teachers and parents touring with me posed the question: Would we better serve our students if libraries focused on the tactile and practical as opposed to the informational and theoretical?

Libraries spend thousands of dollars each year on books that sometimes gather dust, only to be replaced by digital books on electronic readers. Other library services, like DVD rentals and internet access, serve an important public function, but watching a movie, checking e-mail, or chatting with a friend on Facebook is a far cry from the experiential research, discovery and creation centers that libraries could become.

So the question becomes, as mail-order books and digital e-readers supplant the traditional needs for space to house volumes, should policymakers push for “Library version 2.0?” Building on the model schools used to employ (of tactile classes like woodshop and mechanics, now mostly gone), could the space in libraries be used for things like robotics, computer programming and 3D printing, a new form of manufacturing? I think this is an intriguing possibility. And as always, I would like to hear your thoughts.

Mike Gatto is a father and the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations. He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, and portions of the Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood. Email Mike at: assemblymember.gatto@assembly.ca.gov, or call (818) 558-3043.

Supports Trans Options Rather Than Old Fights
Entertaining though it is to read John L. Gregg speaking for the masses (“Chastises ‘Selfish’ Attitude,” Viewpoints, July 4), his defeated development was not going to be affordable or even mid-range housing. I can’t recall the exact words, but back then one of his justifications for Oakmont V was the supposed dearth of executive-level homes in our area.

The new residents would have been polluters on the freeways and roads as well, joining us in our public transit desert.

Instead of revisiting old fights over clearing pollution-eating trees to build McMansions, let’s get together to demand real transportation options to get us out of our cars here in the Crescenta Valley and in other outer-ring suburbs. Hey, in Newport Beach too.

Mr. Gregg, elite and selfish do not belong in the same sentence as Mike Lawler, to say the least.
Roberta Medford

Dog And Pony Show
Let’s hear it for the 2013 Dog and Pony Show of Glendale Water and Power Company. For the past couple of weeks, our local utility company has been instructed by our city council to reach out to the community and explain how council and GWP were going to circumvent proposition 26. Prop 26 requires two-thirds voter approval when a city imposes any rate increases related to property rights. The proposed electric rate increase will be approximately 30% compounded over the next five years and only on the kilowatts used, plus additional fixed costs. In addition, when the variable green fuel commodity is added to the 30%, plus the fixed cost, the actual electrical rate increases can be 70% or more over the next five years. Also, from 2007-2015 water rates will have gone up 51%.

With the re-election of council members Friedman and Najarian together with Mayor Weaver and stand in Councilman Quintero, all are on board for the 2013 Glendale Water & Power Dog and Pony Show working its way around town.

The GWP proposed electric rate increases in 2012 were postponed because council members Friedman and Najarian were up for re-election in April.

Council members Friedman, Najarian, Quintero and Weaver are all beholden to the unions for “pay to play” politics as the unions have given these council members countless thousands of dollars in campaign money through the years for their continued support. (Salary: parking manager $96,060; Retired Police Chief Ron De Pompa just retired at age 57 with an annual lifetime pension of $197,000).

As millions of dollars continue being drained out of the GWP into the general fund to primarily pay for city workers salaries, pensions and benefits, council approved a $35 million bond last year and another $60 million bond is being discussed now to keep the utility company afloat.

During the April election, Glendale police and fire fighters associations were doing what unions do best … getting out the vote for their candidates in order to receive as much salary, pensions and benefits from the taxpayers as possible. The union-supported candidates were well funded and well organized compared to their challengers.

At candidate forums and on campaign mailers, it was stated to the voters and local merchants if they wanted to have their electric and water rates increased, fees and taxes increased, as well as new bonds, please, by all means, support and vote for the incumbent candidates … and the voters did!

What recourse do the blinded voters have now? None!

Mission accomplished.
Mike Mohill   

Remembering – and Questioning – A Brother’s Loss
[Reflecting on] the 4th of July, a patriotic holiday, once again thoughts of my brother Tim entered my mind and dampened my spirit. Tim was an army veteran who won special awards; he trained up to be a medic and excelled in his field. Tim experienced some things while in the army that were, shall we say, rather emotionally challenging.

He began taking prescription drugs to handle depression and, within a year, he committed suicide. He was never suicidal before in all the time I knew him, even while growing up. I always wondered what happened as he was in a position to really create a life for himself.

I came across an article online the other day that I think may have answered my question. It was entitled “Fox Special Report Series – Military’s Use of Powerful Psychiatric Drugs.” It apparently came out last month and was produced by an investigative reporter, Douglas Kennedy, and a group called CCHR. Several stories were relayed about veterans who had been prescribed “cocktails” of antidepressant drugs to treat their psychological problems after serving their country by the Dept. of Veteran’s Affairs and wound up dying as a result. One Marine corporal was being prescribed 19 different drugs, five alone for insomnia.

I began to wonder if this isn’t what happened to Tim. He seemed to change for the worse after taking the drugs for his depression. I am also aware now that suicide rates for our military men have skyrocketed since these drugs began so commonly prescribed. The report is quite eye opening and I am including the link. http://www.cchrint.org/2013/05/2//drugging-the-american-soldier-psychiatric-drugs/

Now that my brother is gone, I feel the least I can do is put forth a warning to vets and encourage them to investigate this for themselves.
Dean Wexler
La Crescenta

Ideas to Rid Rigs
[“Big Rigs Make for Big Headaches,” July 11] was a very good article on an issue that has plagued our community since 1972 when the freeway initially opened through the foothills.

[On Friday, July 12] at 3 p.m., as I drove over the freeway on Briggs, an 18-wheeler, with Utah plates on the tractor, was parked on the overpass.

Here’s one very simple solution to the problem: post parking restrictions such as: No Parking Anytime Of Commercial Vehicles Over 8,000 (Or 10,000) lbs. GVW.

Prohibiting the “parking” of oversized commercial vehicles which exceed 10,000 pounds would allow area residents to continue the use of our streets and would force the storage parking of big rigs to somewhere more appropriate, be that a dedicated parking facility or a municipality which invites and encourages such storage parking on its streets.

Is it not interesting that the east side of the Pennsylvania Avenue underpass contains at least one to three stored of trucks and the west (Glendale) side is empty of them? Whatever posting prevents (big rig or otherwise) parking on the west side of the Pennsylvania Avenue underpass should apply to the rest of the community of La Crescenta, especially the whole of Altura Avenue, Waltonia Avenue, Foothill Boulevard (except for the immediate loading/offloading of goods), Briggs Avenue, La Crescenta Avenue, Ramsdell Avenue and Montrose Avenue.  Granted, Glendale has more immediate control of its streets, but this is one community up here unlike lower Glendale.

There are advantages to living in “the county,” but La Cañada, Montrose and La Crescenta are basically one community. We are all negatively affected by storage of these large commercial vehicles on our local streets. Aside from presenting themselves as an eyesore, they block view of traffic and adversely affect traffic and pedestrian safety. Their presence on the overpasses in our community also serve as invitations to other big rig operators passing through looking for a “nice, safe” place to store their rigs.

La Cañada has addressed the problem, and Glendale has taken care of business.  Now it’s La Crescenta’s turn to prohibit storage parking of large, oversized commercial vehicles on its streets. It’s up to residents to make their desires known to the County.

Kudos to the Crescenta Valley Town Council for their efforts in dealing with this problem.
John Spencer
La Cañada