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                                                     January 11, 2007

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has.”
Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist, 1901 - 1978

In This Issue

1. What to Do When the Police Do Not Come
2. The Eleventh Commandment, Part 1
3. Announcements
4. Fun Fact
5. About Montebello E-News and “My Montebello”

Online Community Lesson

What to Do When the Police Do Not Come?

The adults among us might recall the King riot of the early Nineties, when the Los Angeles Police Department held back in some places, leaving it to residents and shop owners to defend themselves. All of us should remember that police were absent in parts of New Orleans last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Can’t happen here? There is an extensive personal account of it happening on September 15, 2006, in a nearby community. The account is long and revealing, so it has been excerpted, modified, and proofread here:

The party started early, so my ninety year-old sick mother and I thought it would end early also. Wrong!!!

By 11:00 PM my mom had a nasty headache and was very tense because she could not go to sleep. All the noise of the music and the yelling and screaming of the multitude of people up and down the street, the firecrackers, as well as the loud music coming from the cars that kept coming and clogging the street traffic, and the blowing of horns made it impossible for any one to sleep.

By 11:30 PM everyone [outside] was drunk, people were all over the neighborhood yards smoking drugs and drinking and making a mess by leaving cans and bottles all over the place. They put bottles next to our cars tires and the mob of people kept growing as the night got later, instead of ending the party.

I called the [police station] and reported the noise and the drunkenness on the neighborhood yards, but the lady officer that answered the phone sounded very uncaring, even annoyed, by my call, saying that there was an emergency and the entire force was busy with that, but as soon as they had some one available she would send a unit to look into this.

My house has two gates. A wooden gate on the north side of the house whose walk-way goes by the bathroom and my mom's bedroom window. Well, my poor mother got the scare of her life when two guys opened the wooden gate, came into our yard and started to urinate right outside her bedroom window. She was so scared that she could not scream; instead she clenched her teeth so tight that she broke the molar that holds her partial. She now has to have that dental work done, but since that night her blood pressure has been too high for the dentist to work on her teeth. So she has another appointment at the dentist this coming Thursday and we hope the work can be done at that time.

As I said, my first phone call to the police dept. was around 11:30 PM that night. We waited and waited and waited some more but no one would come. My mom started to complain that she felt dizzy and her head was pounding with pain. I called the police dept. again about 12:45 AM and the same lady answered the phone. By this time she sounded really annoyed.

She said no one was available yet due to the emergency of earlier (the emergency was a stolen car, I found out much later). About 1:00 AM I had to call the police department again and the same lady answered the phone, and this time she was outright rude! I was crying on the phone because by this time the so-called party had deteriorated to the point of fighting. There were several fights going on at the same time, and one of them was taking place right at my driveway….

This person learned that the party host had some relation with the police department. Did this person pursue a complaint? No, because he feared retaliation of some sort from the department.

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 lesson here?
(a) Nothing works perfectly and we must accept that.
(b) We must have a backup plan for every emergency.
(c) More police service necessitates more budget for the police department.
(d) The less dependent we are on others, the better for us.

2. What is the best action which you could take?
(a) Train and participate in our police department’s citizen patrol.
(b) Join neighbors in organizing and equipping your neighborhood for an emergency.
(c) Join others in asking the city council to pass an ordinance requiring a bond and / or insurance if the number of partygoers exceeds a certain number; if there is no coverage and there is an incident, the fine will be three times the amount of physical damage and mental anguish to partygoers and neighbors, whether or not the police come.
(d) Join neighbors in creating a neighborhood council and agree upon rules of “neighborly conduct”.
(e) Join others in setting up an independent, community-wide oversight committee to which suggestions and complaints would come and from which reports and initiatives would issue.

The Eleventh Commandment, Part 1:
Should We Ask Mel Brooks?

Семь раз отме́рь, оди́н отре́жь.
Translation from Russian: Measure seven times, cut once.

Remember the Mel Brooks comedy in which Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with fifteen commandments, but when one tablet breaks, he proclaims the Ten Commandments? Seriously, there are rules to live by to save us time and money, to lessen the pain and confusion. One such rule is “We shall not pass judgment or take action without confirming the information which has incited or attracted us.”

Do you know how valuable this is? Extremely valuable. This applies to the unexpected letter coming to the house, with an announcement about a lottery winning. Or to the chain e-mail telling us that Microsoft will pay us to forward the chain e-mail. Or the nauseating election-campaign advertisement warning us that some candidate is a wolf in sheep’s clothing or some proposition a Trojan Horse. Yes, this includes any contract which we sign, any warranty which we buy, any trinket or bauble which a salesman brings into our office and offers for a dime on the dollar. This includes any magic bullet for health, any get-rich-quick program, any solicitation for charity from a telemarketer. And, as if we were about to walk through a minefield, this includes anyone asking us for private information like a Social Security number, offering us a reward if we help by first giving him money or giving us groundbreaking news in a ten-second soundbite.

And there is a corollary to this commandment: the greater the consequence of our judgment or more irreversible our action, the more time we must take and more reluctant we must be to decide or do anything without the confirmation. Better to do nothing than the wrong thing, unless a person’s life be on the line and we must decide or act quickly.

Here is the rub. How to confirm information without spending any money and without taking much time? Whom can we trust for a quick, reliable confirmation?

First, it would be good—actually, prudent—for each of us to be self-reliant with regard to confirmation of information. This means that we should take care of ourselves, decide for ourselves. But that is not realistic for most people, because they do not have the time or skill to confirm information. Is there a safe alternative?

Yes, we could have a person in our lives to act as the guardian. Like a lawyer, but without any negative connotation or vision of sugarplums dancing in his head. The guardian would take the time to identify and connect with sources of confirmation, then give us the confirmation or rejection of information. The guardian should be somebody close to us, a family member or a long-time friend; however, not somebody famous and remote, like a President, spiritual leader, head of a consumer organization or movie star.

This is not something to muse upon for a couple of minutes and then follow nonchalantly with a discussion about professional football or after-holiday sales. So, what concrete step can we take now to have a guardian now, as scam artists, hucksters, and propagandists do not stop until after the damage has been done?


FOR EVERYONE. Meeting of the Montebello Planning Commission, Tuesday, January 16, 2007, 7 PM, at city hall. More information: 323.887.1200.

FOR EVERYONE. Meeting of the Montebello City Council, Wednesday, January 24, 2007, 7:30 PM, at city hall. If you wish to speak, come before 7:30 and fill a card. If you have much to say, type, copy, and pass out your speech, as there is a time limit for speakers. More information: 323.887.1200.

FOR YOUTH, FAMILIES, RETIREES. Sign up! The Montebello-Commerce YMCA has programs for children of all ages. 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 Boulevard. 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

FOR FAMILIES AND RETIREES. Healthy Cooking for Busy Families. LIVE Cooking Demo only $3. Get a chance to taste the dishes. All participants will receive the complete recipe. Three Chances to see the Demo: February 24 @ 10:00 am, Wednesday, February 28 @ 9:30 am or Wednesday, February 28 @ 6:30 pm. For more information, call the Montebello-Commerce YMCA at (323) 887-9622.

FOR EVERYONE. Take the 60-day challenge. You're only 60 days away from a healthier you! Become a member at the Montebello-Commerce 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! For more information, call (323) 887-9622.

Fun Fact

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:

Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs -Alexander the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar

About Montebello E-News and “My Montebello”


To learn about this newsletter, Montebello E-News, and the accompanying, growing Web site, “My Montebello”, visit Also, you will find instructions and contact information for submitting announcements for publication in this newsletter.
































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