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                                                     December 21, 2006


                                "For it is in giving that we receive."
 -St. Francis of Assisi


  In This Issue


  1. Announcements for Everyone

  2. If It’s Broke, We Need to Fix It

  3. I Don’t Want to Grow Up, Part 3

  4. About E-News






     Behold what they sow and reap!  The Montebello Kiwanis Club, helped by its youth affiliate, the Key Club, sponsored and served Thanksgiving dinner this year to four hundred people at the Montebello Senior Center.   Our other service clubs did outstanding service, too for Thanksgiving.  This Saturday, the fifteenth annual “Christmas at the Cannon” will take place at the Quiet Cannon restaurant in Montebello, where a dinner and food baskets will be given to 3,000 pre-registered families, with youth up to age fourteen receiving toys.  This is a huge event with many sponsors and volunteers—a real team effort!  A list of sponsors and volunteering organizations will appear at


       Sign up!  Montebello-Commerce YMCA.  Karate lessons for ages 5 through 17, swimming lessons for ages 6 months through adult, and tumbling lessons for ages 5 through 7.  Sign up by walk-in only, 2000 West Beverly.  Children must be accompanied by parent or legal guardian.  M – F, 5:30 AM

     – 10 PM;  Saturday, 7 AM – 5 PM;  Sunday, 9 AM – 2 PM.  323.887.9622


       Take the 60-day challenge for a healthy lifestyle.  Become a member at the YMCA and a counselor will help you set up a customized lifestyle program.  Look good and feel good as you make good on your new year’s resolution!


        Did you know?  By telephone, with your library card handy, you may reserve a computer at the main Montebello library, up to three days in advance.  You may reserve once per day for up to an hour, and may use the computer an additional hour if there is nobody waiting.  Each computer has Internet access.  M – Tue, 10 AM – 8 PM;  W – Thu, 10 AM – 6 PM;  F – Sat, 10 AM – 5 PM.  323.722.6551

Online Community Lesson

If It’s Broke, We Need to Fix It

 Teacher-authored with student research

       Some important facts do not make the evening news.  For example, have any of us heard that Congress receives more than two hundred million (200,000,000) e-mail every year?  Let’s do the math:  that comes to an average of three hundred seventy-one thousand (371,000) e-mail per member of Congress, if we include the three non-voting members.  That is an average of more than one thousand four hundred e-mail per working day.  If a member’s staff worked nonstop for eight hours a day (yes, such would be inhuman and inhumane), answering each constituent e-mail in one minute, the member would have to dedicate three staff people to this task—and probably would have a high “burn out” and turnover among staff.


So, what is to be done?  Congress has implemented a solution: 


…some congressional offices have added authentication measures to their Web forms, restricting the flow of constituent communications to members.

”Congress Curtails Constituent E-mail”, Susie Gordon, Capital Advantage, as reprinted in Philanthropy Journal, July 31, 2006.



       Even assuming that this is a legitimate solution (there are those who say “no”), could any member’s staff possibly answer all communications timely and adequately, even if half the communications were blocked by this solution?  Obviously, no.



        A member of E-News team 8 asked city hall, the county supervisor’s district office, and the congressional member’s district office about their preferred means of communication.  Here are the results:


Type of Communication

City Hall

Supervisor Molina’s Office

Congressional Member Napolitano’s Office


1 (most preferred)


No preference













Visit district office




Attend event where there is a field representative





7 (least preferred)




         If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to, with “E-News answers” in the subject field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization.


    1. What is the root cause of a member of Congress receiving too many communications?

        (a) the ease with which constituents use e-mail.

        (b) too few staff people to answer communications.

        (c) too many constituents depending on the member for solutions.


    2. What would be most helpful to an elected official trying to answer constituent communications?

        (a) A bigger budget with which to hire more staff.

        (b) Constituents organizing semimonthly meetings to which a large number of constituents would be invited, where there could be questions and answers.

        (c) Constituents setting up a nonpartisan survey organization and continually communicating survey results to the elected official.


     3. What is the best way in which you could help to solve this problem?

        (a) Volunteer time at the district office of an elected official.

        (b) With others, set up and run a nonpartisan survey organization as a business.

          (c) Contact elected officials and volunteer to sit on a constituent committee which would organize and run semimonthly meetings.





I Don’t Want to Grow Up, Part 3


“The solution to adult problems tomorrow depends on
measure upon how our children grow up today.”

                     -Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist, 1901-1978


       In part 1 we looked at how the use of the word “kid” could affect our expectation and treatment of youth.  There is the belief that youth have potential to help adults meet the great challenges of our times, but because we treat youth as “kids”, we fail to tap that potential.  In part 2 we considered the possibility of implementing a serious, yet entertaining game, in order to persuade adults to refrain from using “kid” to refer to youth, as the first step toward changing the expectation and treatment of youth.  We left off wondering whether youth would support a campaign to elevate their status.


        Knowing that in Latin culture we have the quinceañera and the “sweet sixteen” party in English culture, I ask whether we could have a somewhat formal, somewhat enjoyable program to indicate maturity, regardless of the age of the youth, not too different from the process used by Boy Scouts of America to evaluate a candidate for the rank of Eagle.  


        Of course, this leads to questions.  Which youth have the time away from studies and school activities to pursue a program of maturity?  Which adults have the time to mentor the youth in such a program, more so if we wish to give the opportunity to a very large number of youth?  And what privileges could be accorded which would be meaningful, without creating costs and without being vulnerable to crippling abuse?


       The answer to these questions might lie in reverse order.  First, if we had a set of inexpensive, if not cost-free, privileges for youth and accorded those privileges based on their exhibition of maturity, we would expect to attract a large number of youth.  If the youth were evaluated on their exhibition of maturity, then they would strive to exhibit maturity, which means that they would not be “high maintenance”, that is, they would not take excessively of the time of adult mentors.  So we would have adult mentors.  Also, if the privileges were very desirable, the youth would reprioritize studies and school activities.


       The best vehicle for a program of maturity might be through existing school clubs.  We would ask more of youth and give them more in return.  Hopefully, the clubs would grow in size and the level of maturity exhibited would be such that adult mentoring, as by a teacher-adviser, would need to be only nominal.


        I would ask that, for a program of maturity, our service organizations work together, to maximize the scarce resources of time and money.


 Van Ajemian, December 21, 2006, Montebello, California 90640


(For the full text, go to and click on “Life’s Problems and Solutions”.)


About E-News


     Greetings to all! We are Montebello E-News, a newsletter operated by students from Montebello High School eager to help make a difference in Montebello. This newsletter is designed to


ü     inform those who "labor, learn, and live" in Montebello;


ü     assist the community in decision-making that benefits the community as a whole;


ü     to encourage the improvement of the quality of life in the community;


ü     to create community communication and cooperation;


ü     teach “self-reliance, selflessness, and sustainable solutions.”


    Our greatest hope is that this newsletter reaches as many people in Montebello. Montebello E-News is a nonpartisan newsletter that not only offers solutions but also welcomes the recipients to give us suggestions on how to make the newsletter more useful to them.



Each newsletter will include one or more of :


ü     announcements;


ü     fun facts and games;


ü     an important fact, solution, and activity;


ü     public advisory vote;


ü     online community lesson,


ü     how residents can help themselves and their community. 


By team 6, which lays out and publishes E-News.




A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner:


"Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil.  The other dog is good.  The mean dog fights the good dog all the time."


When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."



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