Saturday, August 30, 2008
Specialists costing LAUSD
By George Sanchez, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/29/2008 11:30:17 PM PDT
Even while grappling with funding shortfalls, the Los Angeles Unified School District is employing more than 800 consultants - paid, on average, more than twice as much as regular employees - to oversee school construction.
The Facilities Services Division spends about $182 million on its 849 consultants, almost $215,000 each. The division's regular employees are paid about $99,000 each.
The practice has prompted concerns and a growing number of inquiries from the district's board members and LAUSD's bond oversight committee.
"It's the big secret everybody knows and the taxpayers of L.A. County are paying for," said Connie Moreno, a labor representative of the California School Employees Association.
"It looks real good that they get all these schools built, but no one knows the real cost."
District officials defend the practice, saying use of consultants ebbs and flows with the various stages of construction.
And facilities chief Guy Mehula said employee salaries don't measure up to industry wages, so the only way to complete the work is by using independent contractors.
"In many cases, the expertise is more expensive than we can hire as an employee," he said.
Overall, consultants constitute nearly 20 percent of division personnel and account for 35 percent of personnel costs.
Senior Deputy Superintendent Ray Cortines agreed that consultants can get the work done quickly and correctly, but said he is also concerned about the district's reliance on outside workers. "We need to look at it, to reduce the number of consultants," he said.
A report on facilities consultants, including a recommendation, is expected next week.
While it may not be politically viable to offer raises to construction staff and management while teachers and other school staff members are laid off, reassigned or possibly forced to take unpaid days off, at least one board member insists a solution can be found.
"It's not an either-or," said board member Yolie Flores Aguilar. "It's about finding the balance and making sure we're in compliance."
In the seven main branches of the Facilities Services Division, there are 3,479 district employees who earn a total of about $347 million, according to district records.
The division employs 849 consultants who earn a total of about $182.6 million.
Most of the consultants work in two branches: new construction and existing facilities.
Consultants working on new construction number 379 - more than twice the number of their regular-employee counterparts, 178.
And 385 consultants work on existing facilities - about 12 percent of all personnel in the branch that includes nearly 2,600 regular employees in maintenance and operations.
Mehula said that to build on the scale of LAUSD's unprecedented construction effort - the largest of its kind in the country - the district needs to hire experts or it could end up with another debacle like that surrounding the Belmont Learning Center, now renamed Vista Hermosa.
Once a symbol of failure, the Belmont complex, built downtown atop an oil field and an earthquake fault, cost hundreds of millions of dollars over more than a decade of construction.
"In 2001, there was no in-house expertise," Mehula said. "That's what happened with Belmont."
While experts in real estate, environmental science, design and construction are key to projects that must be economical and innovative, most of them hold positions not necessarily needed in the long term, he said.
For existing facilities, Mehula said, 112 consultants were dropped in the past year. But if those consultants were needed as employees, he said, the district would not be able to afford them.
Los Angeles Unified's refusal to raise the wages for employees and management in the facilities division has long been a concern of the bond oversight committee, composed of parents, local government officials and representatives of special-interest groups.
The committee passed a resolution July 31 condemning the district for not paying higher wages, stating that the ability to attract and retain "top quality management" is being compromised.
The panel also said the district "is actually forced to pay far more for contractors to fill many positions."
Measure Y, the district's $4 billion construction bond measure passed in 2005, requires the district to survey construction firms across the country twice a year to ensure facilities management is paid comparable industry wages.
Multiple district surveys found that pay is lower, but raises are not feasible, according to Cortines.
"As you know, there is a budget crisis where some of our valuable staff members are losing their jobs," Cortines wrote in a letter to Thomas Rubin, the oversight committee's consultant.
"The board has some very tough decisions in the near future, including pay cuts and furloughs. It would not be responsible for the district to prompt pay raises for the very top levels of management in this environment."
Flores Aguilar agrees that facilities employees and managers should be paid more.
"We want the best that we can get because we want to get it right," she said, and to avoid Belmont-type problems. But she acknowledged the political problem of offering raises to facilities employees while cutting funding for teachers and other direct education expenses.
"Unfortunately," she said, "and this goes for Los Angeles as well as the nation, we have not really appropriately funded education."
Payroll trouble cuts off healthcare benefits for 1,300 L.A. Unified employees
Mostly substitute teachers are affected by the latest glitch in the district's problem-plagued payroll system. The benefits are expected to be restored without a lapse in coverage.
By Jason Song, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer 9:46 PM PDT, August 29, 2008
The Los Angeles Unified School District's problem-plagued payroll system inadvertently cut off healthcare benefits to about 1,300 employees, mostly substitute teachers, who didn't work in July.
Substitutes who work the equivalent of 100 days during a school year are eligible for medical, dental and vision benefits the following year if they are still teaching, but the district sent a letter to some employees late last week informing them that their coverage had ended July 31.
District officials apologized for the error in a letter Aug. 28 and promised that medical benefits would be restored without a break in coverage, although some employees said Friday they still haven't been able to use their insurance cards to fill prescriptions or visit a doctor.
"They scared the hell out of 1,300 people," said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles.
District officials said the problem occurred because L.A. Unified's payroll system was incorrectly programmed to cut off employees who are not on active status. Because many substitutes didn't work during July, the system sent them letters saying their medical coverage had been rescinded.
Some of the employees who received letters were not eligible for continued benefits and were appropriately dropped, L.A. Unified officials said, although they said they did not yet know how many fell into that group.
The officials said they are still working on glitches in the payroll system, which was launched in January 2007 and resulted in massive problems, including thousands of teachers being paid too much, too little or not at all.
Payment problems have since largely been resolved, district officials said.
"We'll continue to have some of these issues that crop up from time to time, and the only thing we can do is be prepared for knowing we'll occasionally encounter errors . . . and fix them quickly," said David Holmquist, the district's chief operating officer.
Duffy and other teachers union administrators said some members were forced to cancel medical procedures, including a skin cancer surgery. Many others had to forgo getting medical prescriptions.
Lauren Mora, who has been an L.A. Unified teacher for seven years, found out that her health coverage had lapsed when she tried to order birth control pills online Tuesday and was denied.
"I had a freakout. They're really important," she said.
Although summer months are generally slower for substitute teachers, there is less work this year because many campuses have stopped using year-round calendars and switched to a traditional schedule because of declining student enrollment.
Mora estimated that she worked about three days a week last summer, mainly at Broadous Elementary in Pacoima, but since the school switched to a traditional calendar in June, she said she hasn't taught at all.
"I'm just waiting for the first week of school and for the phone to ring," she said.
Holmquist said all employees should have their medical coverage restored by now, but Mora said she still hasn't been able to get her medication.
After reading these two articles, how do you feel about trusting LAUSD in placing another large high school on a bluff overlooking the blue Pacific?
Friday, August 29, 2008
" I still can't answer that question until somebody answers it for me. What is it exactly that the Vice President does every day?"
The honorable Sarah Palin, Governor of the State of Alaska in an interview with Neil Kudlow.
We now have learned the identities of the candidates for both the Democratic Party and the Repub Party ( I use "Repub" because they constantly use "Democrat Party" and even the POTUS mispronounces the name of the party he doesn't lead, probably mispronouncing it deliberately").
Somebody must have told John McCain that 18 Million voters voted for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman.
Would John have asked a male human with the same experiences in politics and service that Sarah has, to join his ticket?
How come two years in State office compares more favorably than three years in the U.S. Senate and eight years in State office?
Can the experiences of service between the V.P. choices of the two major political parties be compared.
Which of the two V.P. choices may have a higher degree of leadership ability and overall world experiences to qualify them to become President if that might ever happen?
Which of the two-major party candidates has a higher percentage of likelihood that they would become unable to remain in office or die while in office?
I think however, that by Tuesday morning Ms. Palin will not longer be John's running mate.
I can envision her 'deciding' to step aside and allowing somebody like Mr. Huckabee the opportunity to be nominated for V.P.
We all have the entire weekend to see if major McCain supporters and donors challenge John's choice for a running mate.
On the few sites where I have read comments to John's selection, I can see about at least a 15 to 1 take that the selection of Sarah is not only a very bad decision on John's part, but a decision that insures that in January we will watch the swearing in of President Obama.
When we see John's pick for running mate, we also see quite a bit about what he truly thinks of voters in America, what he feels he needs to try and get elected, and what decision-making qualities he demonstrates.
So far, it looks like John would be a bad President simply from the very few decisions we have watched him make recently.
Too stand up and recognize he has supported "W" about 90% of the time, is something we may all want to call into question.
From the largest surplus ever to the greatest deficit in the history of our nation, acknowledging that you support the President that served during those times also indicates to many people that John may have a worse decision-making ability that just about every other Presidential candidate that will be on the November ballot.
Is Obama ready to be President? Was John Kennedy compared to a sitting Vice President with 8 years experience at that job?
Would Biden be able to step in at the loss of heart beat or other incapability by Obama?
Would Palin be able to step in at the loss of heart beat or other incapability by McCain?
Is Huckabee or some other far conservative be willing to replace Palin on the ticket?
San Pedro has had a history of supporting Democratic nominees for President.
Rancho Palos Verdes has had a history of supporting Repub nominees for President.
The three precincts that make up the "Eastview" area have voted more conservative than progressive, in the more recent past.
I do not usually vote for a major party candidate in Presidential elections. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and even John Kerry are too centrist for my liking and my one vote tries to help another candidate acquire campaign funds.
I haven't voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate since the re-election attempt by President Carter and we all know how that turned out.
I have some issue with Obama's ability to control and deal with things when somebody crosses him. He may be vindictive like Hillary was proven to be.
John is simply too old, feeble, and growing more in senility to be President for even four years. The prospect of having Sarah needing to step in should fill Republics and all Americans with fear.
I liked Joe Biden early on.
Governor Richardson had more things I agreed with than any other candidate but he has absolutely no "TVQ" and he cannot discuss and debate issues important to him in ways that can be held onto. He has many good ideas, but no real way to personally communicate them.
Senators Clinton and Edwards are far too centrist for my liking.
Representative Kucinich, even though more progressive than all the rest, can not be the choice of any major party.
I have not and never will vote for a Republic in a party-contested race. (I have voted for Republics in elections where their party affiliation was not mentioned on the ballot).
I wish I could have Richardson's ideas used by a candidate that communicates as well as Bill Clinton communicates.
Politics is not perfect and we learned even more about that, today I feel.
Let's thank Sarah for being willing to be on the ticket but recognize that John made a very bad choice and he has time to correct his lack of a better decision.
John has clearly demonstrated by this one act of who he selected for his running mate, that he waited too long in his life to really seek the office responsibly, realistically, and reasonably.
Now it is your turn.
The site contains pages of information and should become the major source of information for those opposed to building a new 810-seat high school campus on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
I hope everyone bookmarks the new site and visits it regularly.
The site was published to the web shortly before a very important meeting by LAUSD to provide more information, take questions, and receive comment on the proposed school's Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR).
Information about the meeting can be found on the post directly below this post.
Whether you support the building of SRHS 15 on its preferred site or not, learning as much as you can and want to about the project, is not a bad thing.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Yes, those white things sticking up are wind turbines.
Yes, there are two different conceptual illustrations of the same proposed project.
Yes, it is rational to be confused, at this point.
Yes, the proposed access illustrated on the left of the two illustrations is on Alma Street.
Yes, for a short time my head did explode.
Yes, I am better now.
Yes, I think Dr. Vladovic needs to hide from his phone and his inbox.
Yes, LAUSD considers the Alternative of just eliminating the wind turbines, repeat wind turbines, is a reasonable Alternative to building the project with the preferred plans.
Yes. please add ice to my 7 and 7.
Yes, I am fairly over being mad about the DEIR.
Yes, it is quite alright to poke fun at the DEIR, if you have recovered from your head exploding.
Yes, THEY did bring us THIS DEIR.
Yes, I do believe LAUSD thinks we are fools.
Yes, the DEIR is fair game to crush.
Yes, we should be objective to a point.
Yes, it is also perfectly alright to be mad at the bureaucrats who thought up this monster.
Yes, you need to be at the September 4, 2008 meeting.
Yes, I already have 35 pages of notes and comments written concerning the DEIR.
Yes, I think the DEIR is flawed and demonstrates that LAUSD is and had been disingenous to many of us.
Yes, WE WILL FIGHT!
Yes, please sleep well and be happy.
Yes, many of us have "got your back."
Yes, Bob Bisno continues to want to build One Thousand Nine Hundred Fifty condominiums in San Pedro with everyone using ONLY Western Avenue for ingress and egress.
Yes, the Port of L.A. wants to put two cruise ship berths miles away from vehicle parking for passengers of the ships.
Yes, we are living in pretty goofy times in OUR community.
Yes, if you don't have a good sense of humor you may want to pack up and leave.
Yes, WIND TURBINES in a residential area on a bluff where wind speed, according to an LAUSD manager is ONLY 6 mph.
Yes, some nightmares do come true.
Yes, I must stop writing this post.
Just about everyone who shops in downtown San Pedro, lives there, works there, or supports organizations that have offices in that area are qualified to vote.
If you live in an area represented by the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners' Coalition, which meets in Central's area, you are qualified to vote.
If you have a Library Card and use the San Pedro branch Library, you qualify to vote.
If you are a member of the San Pedro Bay Historical Society, you are qualified to vote.
If you donate to organizations like Little Fish Theater Company or the Golden State Pops Orchestra, both of which preform in Central's area, you are qualified to vote.
If you perform work by ingress and/or egress of businesses within the area, you are qualified to vote.
In short, if you have any dealings with anything within Central's geographical area, then you may self-affirm your right to vote in the election and you can be considered a stakeholder in that Council.
I think we all also need to realize that any stakeholder may enter the election as a write-in candidate as late as September 8, 2008 and don't be surprised if four of the five current officers of the organization become write-in candidates.
There is a real need to finish what what started during the last election cycle at Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
Last year, twelve candidates running on a slate that was designed to begin restoring any real sense of a good reputation at Central, was elected.
Now it is time, according to some Heart of San Pedro Committee members to finish the job and continue to restore the reputation of the Council and remove it from some very deep depths of horrible times that have befallen that Neighborhood Council in more recent years.
I do not necessarily have the same recommendations for candidates as the Heart of San Pedro Committee have, but I respect their candidates and offer both my recommended candidates that the Heart of San Pedro Committee's candidates the best of luck.
Two candidates stand out on both recommended lists as candidates that MUST BE ELECTED.
Mr. Art Almeida must be elected. He is the most qualified of all candidates, whether they are or become write-in candidates.
Art is the former President of the San Pedro Bay Historical Society and he is to longshoreman what John Olguin is to children and all who love the ocean.
I hope Art receives either the highest or second highest vote totals.
Mr. Phillip Trigas is also someone who must be elected. I certainly do not agree with Mr. Trigas' support for Bob's Ponte Vista but this gentleman has given of himself to Central in many ways already and his services are already required, respected, and enjoyed by all stakeholders within Central.
Mr. Trigas fulfills duties that have not been met by at least one sitting officer at Central for the past few months, according to some Heart of San Pedro Committee members.
A word of caution, now.
It is believed that Mr. Joe Gatlin, Mr. Joe Donato, Ms. Myra Perez, and Ms. Pamela Foster, four current officers of Central may enter the election as write-in candidates.
These four need to be given a hail and hearty thanks for their services and allowed to become former Board members at Central.
The four individuals mentioned above have created and continued some of the very disturbing issues that have been encountered within the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council in the recent past.
I and the members of the Heart of San Pedro Committee strongly believe that these four individuals should in now way be re-elected to continue serving on the Board.
If it is time for a change in our country, it is most certainly long overdue for change within the Board of Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, and you all can help provide that change by voting for the candidates listed above or the candidates I have listed on this blog within another post.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Here is THE conceptual illustration of South Region High School No. 15 as found in the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project.
The illustration was taken from the Traffic and Pedestrian Appendix of the document.
So, do you have eagle eyes? Heck, do you even need eagle eyes?
THE illustration is just one of the items in the documents that are almost funny enough to keep you from tossing your computer through the window. Repeat, almost!
It is bad enough that Alma will be used, according to the DEIR, so the 'brains' behind the proposed campus added Barlow Saxton Road as another ingress and egress roadway.
Please don't go towards the man behind the curtain because you already know that Barlow Saxton is a mindless try and find another way to get to the school.
But wait, you may shout, isn't there going to be a year-round campus at the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center operating 24/7 that also needs the same access points?
Sure, you get a cookie for that thought.
Not too worry though, according to LAUSD, students can also drive through the Department of Parks and Rec. access at Gaffey and Leavenworth, the access to Angel's Gate Cultural Center.
Might that foul a few plugs in the minds of folks who enjoy Angel's Gate? You betcha.
But LAUSD is LAUSD, the larger than elephant in the community. Well, I did just forget about the Port of L.A. didn't I?
The alternatives provided by LAUSD to building the new campus as it is proposed is four-fold;
No Project-Don't build the new campus at all.
Built it inside Ponte Vista. (Are you howling with laughter yet? Go ahead, it is worth a big belly-laugh.)
Build the new campus almost exactly as it is planned but WITHOUT the wind turbines.
(See I wrote that LAUSD is funny. This one looks like is was just thrown in so that they would say they provided four alternatives, when they really provided just one....See No Project)
Build the new campus to seat only 500 students. (Almost 100% of all the campuses within LAUSD addes seats even when enrollment was declining. If anyone really believes this alternative, please visit www.pontevista.blogspot.com and view my post where I showed folks my acre of the Moon.)
All LAUSD had to do was provide one conceptual illustration of the proposed campus in their DEIR. Is that too much to ask? Are they so incompetent that they can't even provide ONE conceptual illustration of the campus, in black and white?
I hope the Port's upcoming DEIRs on a variety of things fair better than the DEIR released Friday for SRHS 15.
Bottom line, look for a recirculation of at least two sections of the documents in the SRHS 15 DEIR and there may be a reasonable chance that the whole thing will need recirculation, if my law firm of Dewey, Cheatum, Yu, Betcha, and Howe have anything to say about it.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Please come shop and buy, buy, buy when the shop opens its doors.
Last year the store was located in The Terraces but not it is going into a stand-alone building.
You can start pondering on your costumes and decorations for you home right now and by the time the store is stocked and open, you will be able to find many many great costumes and items for the great holiday.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Well the South Region High School No. 15 Draft Environmental Impact Report brought quite a surprize in its announcement of what is proposed for north of the projected campus' site on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur.
One of the items that the School District wants to try out, as a model or pilot program is wind turbines at the site.
They want to "install 15 Mega Watts (MW) of renewable technology at schools to support Sustainability Programs in the District and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as mandated by AB 32."
How might they do that, you may wonder?
"The high school may be developed as a green demonstration project and would
include features to enhance energy efficiency, such as wind turbines,
photovoltaic (PV) panels, and green roofs. Up to 36 wind turbines are proposed
north of the site that would be a maximum of 50 feet high. PV panels are
proposed for the roof of the gymnasium, and green roofs are proposed for the
two lunch shelters and the classroom buildings. Figure 2-4 shows a conceptual
site plan for the Proposed Project."
Please click on announcement to enlarge.
The period for making comments concerning the documents begins today and is scheduled to end on October 10, 2008. A SNAFU during placement of the documents online caused a three-day extension to the end of the comment period.
Anyone and everyone interested in the project to build an 810-seat senior high school campus on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur is encouraged to learn about the DEIR and make comments to what is found within the pages.
The DEIR will include attachments which provide evidence as to the findings of studies contained in the DEIR.
Whether you support building SRHS 15 at what many call 'Angel's Gate', or oppose its construction there, comments are encouraged and they will all become public records in the future.
Groups are also welcome to create comments.
Neighborhoods Organized and Involved to Support Education (NOISE) will be creating a large set of comments.
It is believed that the Palisades Residents Association and possibly the three San Pedro Neighborhood Councils may create and send forth comments.
Commenting on the DEIR is one powerful way to have your thoughts and feelings included in the discussions as to whether the school gets built there or not.
Input by concerned individuals are groups are vital to the processes.
There are several very controversial issues regarding building a new campus on a bluff, beside a canyon, and well within a residential area.
Traffic is the most difficult issue to deal with, by everyone and there will probably be more comments to that section than many of the other sections of the DEIR.
The DEIR will also provide the first written evidence of the alternatives that must be studied, rather than building the campus on the preferred site.
During the next 45 days, this blog will include more posts concerning the DEIR and SRHS 15.
However, there is also several other DEIR's coming out in the very near future that don't revolve around the proposed new campus.
In short order the DEIR's for the Cabrillo Marina expansion, the proposed cruise ship terminal, and the Berth 408 Supertanker terminal will come forth for comment and consideration.
So get your pens, keyboards, laptops, desktops, writing paper and eye wear together because many members of OUR community are going to be writing up a storm.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
At approximately 8,000 pages in length, the good folks at the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) have allowed a 10-day extension of the comment period, now set to end on September 15, 2008.
If you have interest in learning about the PEA and making your own comments, you can find copies of the document at the usual suspect sites of S.P.H.S., the L.A. Public Library on Gaffey, or you can request an electronic copy of the document by sending and Email to Mr. Christer Loftenius at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also look at the document by visiting:
The PEA is a State of California required document that is independent of a 'CEQA' document stream, and having an environmental assessment done on the proposed campus' site is a major requirement.
The acceptance of the proposed site for the construction of a new high school campus is dependent on the outcome of the environmental assessments and not controlled by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) or its board.
If the site fails to meet standards set by the State or cannot have mitigation accomplished to accommodate construction, then the plans for building SRHS 15 at that site, will fail.
The site will most probably pass all required inspections or be approved of due to mitigation of any problems found.
There is an approved expansion of the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center on the LAUSD-owned land and it sits in an area very comparable to the site preferred for for SRHS 15.
There are those in the community who will continue to do battle on the PEA, but there are others who are going to wait until the Removal Action Work plan is brought up, commented on, and considered.
Between the PEA and the work plan adoption to mitigate any problems found on the land, in the buildings, or the air within the soils, there will be a Supplemental Site Investigation that will provide further study to the approximately 10% of the items that the preliminary assessment found needed further study.
During the hearing for the PEA, the district's representative, Mr. Tom Watson claimed that during the removal actions, all dump trucks will be covered and even their tires would be cleaned before they traveled through San Pedro.
It is during the removal and clearing phase, IF it ever happens, where community members will need to be diligent monitors that the contractors who do the work, conform to the laws and regulations.
Mr. Watson also contended that the site for the proposed campus on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur seems to be more like proposed high school sites in the San Fernando Valley and no where nearly as environmentally troubling as other proposed sites like in the southern area of Los Angeles.
I guess Mr. Watson didn't realize he was dealing with a proposed high school site in the most southern place in all of Los Angeles.
No matter I guess. Both Mr. Watson and the engineer from the contracting firm that did the site survey and analysis work both think the site is 'clean' as compared to most sites they have seen.
If you wish to contact the Environmental Assessment Coordinator for the SRHS 15 project, please contact:
Mr. Christer Loftenius, Environmental Assessment Coordinator
LAUSD Office of Environmental Health and Safety
1055 West 7th Street, 9th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017
Since I am a strong advocate for the expansion and uses of the Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center and it received full approval for expansion and programs for resident-students, I don't feel I have a real dog in the hunt, concerning the PEA.
I think we all need to be very careful as we progress into and with the Removal Action Work plan when it comes out in about '5-6 months' according to Mr. Watson.
That document will need to be read and commented on because it is the work plan that states what will be done to the area, the neighborhood, and to the site, concerning the removal of environmental hazards, buildings, and other things that WILL affect the area.
In other news, the Draft Environmental Impact Report for SRHS 15 will be available on or after August 22, 2008.
There will be some CDs of the report that I will copy and offer to folks who would like one. You would have to send me an Email at the address on the top of this blog, if you want one.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Everything was more than wonderful until a volunteer who does not possibly live in the area, started reading the script for the parade over the loudspeaker system set up on the far end of the old Whalers' Wharf area of Ports O' Call.
The @#)(& &))!^$% fellow must be a yacht club member who only visits the area when he comes to drink at the club or visits his 'floating money' because he did the unthinkable.
Every single time he spoke the name of the town he was speaking in he pronounced it "San PAYDRO".
I did what I could to shield my years, but it was for not.
I even tried to tell him the correct way to pronounce the name, but he simply would not.
Thankfully by the time many of the larger ships passed by, he no longer uttered his foul way of saying the name of the place he was standing in.
He did use the !%$#@&(_# word while Fire Boat Number 2 was passing and that was a bother as we watched the majesty of that incredible craft creating much higher fountains than what we see at the largest fountain in the State of California, our new tourist attraction.
Now I need to suggest to that fellow and to the good folks who claim there is only one San Pedro High School, they need to take a peak at; http://ambergriscaye.com/highschool/
Now THAT high school may actually be in what can be pronounced San "PAYDRO", but the language of Belize is also English, but with an accent to most of us.
So to the volunteer/skipper/yacht club member, if you feel you need to mispronounce the name of a town repeatedly, please set sale for the cay off of Belize and speak the name to your heart's content.
- A residential project approximately three times the population as the next largest development in a community, sharing a fence line with a Defense Fuel Supply Depot.
- A brand new residential project in very, very close proximity to a set of LPG tanks that have already been deemed to be a hazard to the area. The new residences would be well within the blast range of the tanks, should they loose their capacity to contain their contents and then having an uncontrolled explosion take place.
- A new cruise ship terminal approximately 3 miles away from the vehicle parking facilities for passengers of the cruise ships.
- A senior high school built directly next to a residential Outdoor Experience Center.
These four examples may make OUR community something of a standout in terms of what might be allowed in this community, but not necessarily anywhere else.
We now are the community with the largest fountain in the State of California. Of course, its primary times for its water displays are during the time folks from other communities travel to OUR community to enjoy it as they board cruise ships out of and into the harbor.
OUR community is trying to figure out what will become of downtown San Pedro's shops and businesses while we await the opening of a 'big box' retail store (Target, closer to the border of San Pedro than to its downtown area).
Yet so many of us still think that 'nothing ever happens in San Pedro'.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Last year, a slate of 12 candidates, with their election as 'at-large' Board members, began some tasks at helping Central recover from some major problems.
On September 9, 2008 we all have the opportunity to help Central and the rest of OUR community by participating in their election of five members to be placed on their Board.
I have my own personal views about who I am going to vote for and I had to use one of my other blogs to present the candidates I favor and do not favor, because of a Ponte Vista related issue.
If you wish to view my picks, please visit: http://www.rneighborhoodsare1.blogspot.com/ and look for the post about the election at Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
We all need three strong, vibrant and comparable Neighborhood Councils in San Pedro.
Both Northwest San Pedro and Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Councils have been demonstrating good work for their stakeholders and OUR community for years.
With a new slate of members and new officers at Central, I and many others feel that Central can join with Northwest and Coastal to provide great representation to all the stakeholders and others in OUR community.
Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council is placed in the center of San Pedro and their area will be seeing many issues that are currently being pondered on this blog.
Central has so very much of the downtown San Pedro area and most of the area that is being considered for waterfront redevelopment to make San Pedro a destination rather than a transportation hub.
Central would be able to provide counsel on the Clearwater Program, along with the other two Councils, so that the necessary ground-level locations will be placed on Terminal Island and not in any residential area of OUR community.
San Pedro High School is in the area of Central and with many of the issues surrounding providing better education for the students at that campus, Central could help "Fix San Pedro High".
If we truly feel that the downtown business area is vital and something that should be supported, improved, and redeveloped, it is at Central where more leadership could be provided.
Whether downtown San Pedro remains a real business community or a residential/arts area/entertainment center, with just offices but few retail stores left open, then it falls on Central to help determine what THEIR area could become, at least as much as the other two Councils.
It will probably be the residents and stakeholders in Central's area who should actively ponder on whether or where a new Supermarket is really needed in the downtown area.
IF and when all the units either under construction, becoming occupied, or currently in limbo finally have people living in them, all of the residents of the downtown area should have a Supermarket closer to them, and have more variety of market experiences than they currently have.
The heart of San Pedro is not centered in any area of OUR community, but the center of San Pedro's working areas and where so many offices are located is within the area of Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
A strong Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council would provide all of us with leadership, aide, and real concern for this vital area of OUR community.
Let's work for what Central can be and try and learn from their past and their present state.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Bob and the Ponte Vista gang offered financial support last year, but it appears they are no longer involved in financially supporting the Festival.
I attended the first annual Festival last year, and it was so much less than what is planned for this year's Festival.After I attended the first Festival, I wrote a post encouraging folks to attend last year's Sunday day. I also wrote that I would support future Tri Art Festivals.
The Tri Art Festival is run by Mr. Joe Caccavalla. He and I do not see eye to eye on our ideas for Ponte Vista, but this great gentleman is putting together another wonderful event for OUR community and I strongly urge everyone to try out Tri Art, this year.
This year's Festival will offer so much more and be quite a bit bigger than the first Festival.
Artisans from all over California Will be participating in a juried exhibition.There will be lots of different types of art for viewing and purchasing.
"Cars as Art", a classic and custom car show will be held, with awards presented in different classes.Several car clubs have been invited to participate, including San Pedro's Rascals and the Woodie Cars Club.
To me, this photo represents art in the form of an engine compartment of a car so many ridiculed, yet would very much like to have, right now.
It got decent gas mileage, it carried folks wherever they wanted to go, it was affordable in its day, and it was so simple.
Yes, it is a photo of the engine and engine compartment of a Pinto. Look how clean the lines are and how simple it was to look at, maintain, and enjoy, back in 1971.
There is much more to the Tri Art Festival than the art we enjoy on walls, under hoods, or sitting on tables.
There will be a Mario Lanza movie featured at the Warner Grand Theater and two days of other entertainment at the Warner Grand.
The late tenor's movie will be shown on September 14, at 1:00 PM and if you haven't seen one of Mario Lanza's musical movies, I think you might have a wonderful experience watching the movie in a theater designed to treat the eyes and ears and stir memories of movie watching in bygone days.
But wait, there's more!
7Th Street will be alive with music both days of the festival. There will be two stages set up to provide musical and dancing entertainment from many of L.A.'s finest entertainments groups.
For those of you who love dance, Sunday September 14 will be filled with dances and dancers from throughout the area, including our own San Pedro City Ballet.
As I learn more of the schedules for the Tri Art Festival, I will create more posts.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Here is one way OUR community can get together and support our largest high school by providing teachers and groups within the school with much needed items that there simply is no budget for through LAUSD channels, at this time.
I think we need to realize that the budget shortfall is a real issue and it is not the students' fault that our government and school system can't provide everything our kids need.
Below, is a flier that begins the spreading of information about Big Give.
Click on each image to enlarge.
Big Give was inspired by Oprah Winfrey's show that gives items to individuals who are deemed needy and Ms. Jilonda Johnson, the founder of Big Give found Oprah's show so inspiring that she is heading the Big Give Project, with help from some very wonderful people.
Big Give is one great way we can all help to become a small part of "Fix Pedro High" as many members of OUR community want to do.
Below is another way to help San Pedro High School's programs and activities.
Periodic events like wine tasting help the Lady Boosters provide for the common good of the student body and faculty at San Pedro High School.
Big Give targets the needs and wishes of classroom teachers, departments, and activities on campus.
I don't think we can rely on the LAUSD School Board to provide enough of the funds to keep improvements going at San Pedro High School and it will take OUR community to back San Pedro High School as it tries to achieve improvements it certainly needs and wants.
I am not willing to throw up my hands and cry that improvements can't be made at San Pedro High School. I am also not willing to 'wash my hands' concerning OUR Pirates.
I hope we can demonstrate, by our willingness to participate in 'fixing Pedro High', that through the improvements the students, faculty, staff, and WE make at San Pedro High School, we will not need to build a new campus because San Pedro High School will become so successful at managing things, that a new campus is simply not needed.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
These are the streets that run from 'basically' east to west, even though they really don't.
Now think of the addresses we use to address folks and businesses that live or are on those streets.
All the numbered streets in San Pedro run that direction and we always use "W" or "West" for every address.
We have to. There doesn't seem to be an "East" or "E" address on any of our streets in San Pedro.
The closest street that MIGHT qualify as having an "east" address would be 22nd. Street because it actually can be found farther east either Harbor Blvd, or any othe street in San Pedro.
I don't know if there were streets with "east" address on Terminal Island when it was considered "East San Pedro".
Perhaps we should ponder not using "W" or "West" any longer, because there aren't any of those addresses available.
Think of the minute amout of ink, carbon, toner, or crayon we can save by not using the directional symbol for streets that have only one direction of addressing.
And what about our sectionalized streets?
MacArthur, Crestwood, Upland, and several other streets have segments to them, some like the three mentioned are within two different cities.
Should we have a "West MacArthur", "Wester MacArthur" and "Westest MacArthur"? I highly doubt it.
These and other silly things are also worth pondering, perhaps only sometimes.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Currently the non-nuclear powered Aircraft Carrier is on its last mission from it home port in Japan. It will be replaced by the U.S.S. George Washington.
Both San Diego and New York City have full-sized carriers as tourist attractions and historical sites.
Perhaps it is time to put all our heads together and ponder whether we would want to try and get the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk for our own waterfront.
There would certainly be many challenges to having a large carrier along our waterfront.
I probably would not fit into the old fishing boat slip, but it would add to our port's ability to call itself a destination port instead of an on-loading and off-loading of passengers and freight port.
If the Port of L.A. could acquire either a smaller helicopter carrier/assault ship or even the massive U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, it would bring lots of tourists, their dollars, and more fame to our port.
Just think of the T.V. shows that would pay to shoot scenes on a real aircraft carrier.
We could probably move the Museum of Flight from where it currently is to the flight deck and hangar deck of the carrier and offer a wider audience for the museum.
Of course there would be other airplanes and flying things that would fit nicely on board a carrier of any size.
I do feel we need to start really pondering this issue sooner than later. I don't want to see the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk used as target practice like the U.S.S. America was.
I certainly don't want it to be scrapped in a foreign country just to come back to America as a bunch of sub-compact vehicles.
The U.S.S. Kitty Hawk is the last conventionally powered full size carrier the U.S. Navy has.
The only other ship within the U.S. Navy that has served us longer is the U.S.S. Constitution and it is a mere 209 years old!
The Kitty Hawk has welcomed returning astronauts, and has served offshore of Viet Nam, Iraq, and other hot spots.
We could be well honored to have such a distinguished ship come to the Port of Los Angeles.
Whether you love war or hate war as much as I do, there is something very grand about our aircraft carriers and I think we may have an opportunity to help all of OUR community out.
The city of Wilmington, North Carolina is already lobbying to have the Kitty Hawk become a floating museum next to the U.S.S. North Carolina, which is already there.
The nation of India is also thinking about purchasing the ship.
The Blue Crab seems to have crawled away.
The building has been given a new coat of paint, but it seems there is probably nothing that can be done to get rid of the curse that makes all restaurants in that space face untimely deaths, if they even open in the first place.
August 1 also brought one opening and one gone business, all within just a couple of hundred feet of each other.
Sunken City, the one that WAS in Rancho Palos Verdes, has moved out.
P'SKETTIE opened today in the space right next to Marie Calendar's on Western Avenue.
We bought our lunch at the new restaurant, today.
Would you believe there is yet another restaurant in OUR community that offers Spaghetti?
P'SKETTIE's sign states that it is open for lunch between 11:00 AM and 2:30 PM, with dinner hours between 4:30 PM and 9:00 PM.
The new place is a drive-thru and it was in operation today.
Spaghetti and salads make up the menu options of the restaurant.
The Spaghetti comes in varius sizes, and without any additional cost, Marinara sauce is put on.
Meat sauce, meatballs, sausage, and chicken can be added for additional charges.
We did not see an antipasto salad on the menu board, but Terri had the Chicken Caesar salad and she enjoyed it.
There are other drive-thru restaurants in San Pedro that offer Spaghetti, but I hope everyone give P'SKETTIE a try.
I still don't know the name of the store directly next to P'SKETTIE, but it seems to sell school uniforms for cash only.
Our Ralph's continues to be remodeled. The produce section is being moved to the middle of the store.
Older versions of supermarkets had their basic foods, meat, produce, and dairy on the outer portions of the stores.
Canned foods, many frozen foods, breads, cereals, and other foods were found along the isles in the center portion of the stores.
It seems that when someone finally gets to know their supermarket and where everything is located, the store is remodeled and we have to relearn where everything is finally put.
I wonder if the Western Avenue Albertson's is going to get remodeled soon.
It is the 20Th year of the feat, festival, overeating extravaganza, music enjoying concerts, community inclusion event, and all around good time thing to do.
Below is a map and a legend for the event.
This year, the picnic several alumni of S.P.H.S. have shepherded for the past five years, moves inside the fence, for the first time.
If you want to see a couple of old yearbooks from the early 1970's, and get a gander at what I look like, please come by our booth on Sunday. We will be at booth 115, I have been told.
A Gathering of "The Crowd" and Friends Picnic is held on the Sunday after a Class' reunion is held.
This year, the Ke-Alians, Class of 1973 celebrates its 35-year reunion Saturday night.
We are sharing a booth, to the best of my knowledge, with a group supporting "Big Give" which is a wonderful way to support projects at San Pedro High School.
I will provide lots more information about "Big Give" in future posts, because I do support projects at San Pedro High School, and so should you, I hope.
Taste in San Pedro is not a free event. There is an admission price and there are tickets sold for food and beverages.
There is beer and wine available at Taste, along with a large variety of different menu items from many local restaurants.
There will be a Ferris Wheel, a climbing wall, and other activities to enjoy, if you aren't shopping the wares from local vendors or enjoying dancing or listening to music, all day long.
On Saturday, there will be an evening concert and a fireworks show to end that day's activities.
The normal hours are 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM, but Saturday's evening will end with fireworks at about 9:30 PM.
Taste in San Pedro is held at Point Fermin Park, for those of you who do not already know.
To get to Point Fermin Park, the easiest way is to find Gaffey Street. Proceed towards the ocean on Gaffey Street.
Just before you run the stop sign at Paseo Del Mar, notice the large gathering, with tents, portable stages, and a fence surrounding the Taste in San Pedro site.
You will most likely not be able to park that close to the park, and you might not get to park at the parking lot on the corner.
You may be instructed to go to the parking lot at 22nd. Street and Miner. There will be shuttle buses to take folks from the parking lot to the site.
If you want a wonderful walk along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, you can park farther southwest along Paseo Del Mar and stroll to the site.
A good walk may also help you get up a good appetite for the great food at Taste in San Pedro.
If you are an Illusion, Mystic, Ke-Alian, Promethean, or Primo, please think about coming by our booth and filling out a name tag. You might want to try and find other alumni from those classes at the site.
Some of us don't look like we did in high school. Some of us do look like we did, but now are much, much larger.
Some of us don't remember what we even looked like in high school, let alone others.
You will also see lots of volunteers from OUR community helping out. This is a community-wide event that lets all of us participate in one way or another.
Taste in San Pedro is a great event for the whole family or just folks who want something different to do on a weekend.
Proposition BB. Year passed-1997. Amount of bond-$2.4 billion dollars.
Proposition K. Year passed-2002. Amount of bond- $3.35 billion dollars.
Proposition R. Year passed-2004. Amount of bond-$3.87 billion dollars.
Proposition Y. Year passed-2005. Amount of bond-$3.985 billion dollars.
Cumulative total of bond indebtedness for the four bonds-$13.605 billion dollars.
The new bond proposal, which was unanimously passed by the LAUSD Board of Education, for placement on this November's ballot is for $7 billion dollars.
If the new bond passes, property tax payers will be held to pay for $20.605 billion dollars in JUST school construction bonds.
Repayment of the school bonds does not include all the other things our property taxes go to fund.
This time, I truly hope we all ponder whether LAUSD deserves such a large new bond measure being passed by voters.
I think somebody should find the graduation rates of high school students in 1997, 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2008 to try and determine if the more money is given, the dropout rate actually goes up.
I pay the property taxes for the house I live in. I cannot afford another school bond, especially when it will go to a school district that is failing to keep accurate record of the expenditures for the previous bonds.
I cannot afford to pay for schools that are failing the students who attend them.
I am not very willing to pay for "Hip-Hop High".
The school district has not even used the funds from the previous four bonds, why do they need another one?
Besides repaying the four previous bonds, if this new bond passes, our tax rates will go up to top out at $60.00 per $100,000 dollars of assessed valuation, just for this newest bond. And we would be paying for this new bond until the year, 2044, THIRTY-SIX years into the future.
Haven't we given enough already, with so little in the way of real education of students to show for it?
South Region High School No. 15 (SRHS 15) MAY already have funding to build that campus on the Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur, so this shouldn't be a pondering about that particular issue.
But when language in the proposed bond calls for another 810-seat campus to ease overcrowding at Narbonne High School, somewhere in the local area, that is something that needs to be carefully considered.
Between Harbor Gateway, south of Sepulveda, and all of the San Pedro area, there could potentially be at least EIGHT schools where high school students attend.
What type of educational results might we expect if we voters provide another $7 billion dollars into the LAUSD system?
Would more teachers be hired to lower class size?
Would every student be able to have every textbook he or she needs?
Would San Pedro High School finally get access for people with movement issues?
(San Pedro High School in not wheelchair accessible)
Would graduation rates be guaranteed to improve?
Would students receive the best education $20.605 billion dollars might provide?
Would we have any consideration that the money approved of would be spent wisely, with OUR interests being considered.
Would we be proud of what we see when the bond money is finally exhausted?
Folks, I just cannot afford more bond indebtedness if what is shown for all the expenditures are results we are currently seeing. Can you?
The parents of the majority of the students attending Los Angeles Unified School District schools are not paying their share, fair or unfair.