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Montebello E-News

 March 22, 2007 

It’s difficult to get a man to understand something
when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

 Upton Sinclair, American author and investigative journalist,

1878 - 1968


In This Issue

 1.     Montebello as a National Leader?  Why Not?

2.     How Little We Know, Part 1

3.     Announcements—in Abbondanza!

4.     Fun Fact

5.     You Don’t Say!

6.     About Montebello E-News and “My Montebello” 


Online Community Lesson

  Montebello as a National Leader?  Why Not?

How many of us know that Montebello was an “All American City”, a designation awarded during the bicentennial of 1976? 

Generally, we a quiet, moderate, and modest community.  The question in this lesson is whether, given the chance to become a national leader, we would seize the day. 

What chance?  We can do something which, perhaps, no city council has done in the United States to increase community participation in civic matters. 

First, the background.  We know that, months ago, our city council limited “orals”, that is, public speaking at council meetings, to three minutes per speaker.  One reason was that orals were taking so much time that council business could not be finished.  (This phenomenon of having so much to talk about and not enough time is a manifestation of “LOCO”, an essay series about which is at  There was a protest by some Montebelloans that this violated their right to free speech.   

So, what can we do?  There are three things: 

(1) those residents who have more to say than there is time during orals may bring a one-page writeup and have the city clerk make enough copies for the city council and everyone in the audience;  an alternative is that the city contract with a nonprofit in Montebello to post writeups at a Web site in advance of a council meeting, with a resident able to refer the council and audience to the Web site for more information; 

(2) council members already come into the audience and chat with people before a council meeting;  the hour between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. preceding a council meeting can become the “town hall hour”, when residents may present their orals at length, governed by rules which they, the residents, have set;  if this conflicts with the council members’ executive meeting, that meeting can be moved to 5:30 p.m., giving the council members a chance to participate in the “town hall hour”; 

(3) the council chamber can be wired for wireless Internet, enabling the audience to access information, such as that posted at the Web site of (1) above, pertaining to orals;  wireless Internet can even make it possible for the audience to communicate with council members and each other via instant messaging or e-mail. 

          How many of us would not be proud to hear Montebello mentioned on “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” or “World News Tonight with Charles Gibson”, for national leadership in improving participatory democracy? 

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to with “Lesson 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. It is becoming harder for a city council to conduct business because 

(a) there is more to talk about and not enough time.

(b) the complexity and number of laws slow decision-making.

(c) it is difficult for five council members to make informed decisions on all the agenda items and all the issues brought up by residents. 

2. Which innovation by the Montebello city council would serve residents and council members best? 

(a) photocopying and passing out a writeup by residents talking during orals.

(b) having a “town hall hour” preceding a council meeting.

(c) making it possible for the audience at a council meeting to communicate via wireless Internet.

(d) all of the above. 



How Little We Know, Part 1

 The main focus in my life now is to open people's minds so no one will be so conceited that they think they have the total truth.  They should be eager to learn, to listen, to research and not to confine, to hurt, to kill, those who disagree with them.

Sir John Templeton, American-born businessman and philanthropist 

How many times have we read that the older we get, the less we know?  Most, if not all, of us have nodded in agreement and remarked, silently if not aloud, that there was wisdom in those words. 

It sounds like a contradiction, but, in fact, the contradiction comes only because English is vague or ambiguous.  “To know less” does not mean that we have less knowledge, senility notwithstanding.  Rather, “to know less” means that we realize that we lack all the relevant information to make an informed decision. 

The consequence of that realization?  We gather more information before we decide, which means that we do not decide as quickly.  However, taking our time to decide is not typically American;  we want to decide quickly, expressed in its extreme form as “shoot first, ask questions later”.  In fact, it seems as if our impatience is more pronounced in the younger generation.  This does not bode well for our country as a world leader. 

This disability of ours is one reason why we have three branches of government, each with the ability to slow the decision-making of the others.  The assumption is that, if we decided quickly, we more likely would make a bad decision.   But, even then, we as a country make bad decisions.  It is only a matter of one’s political leaning as to whether the present or preceding Administration has made more bad decisions. 

It is not only our impatience.  We are subject to incomplete, faulty, irrelevant or purposely inaccurate information, and this information does not always come to us when we want.  Also, there is the phenomenon of too much information to process or the way in which it must be processed, e.g., how a jury must deliberate to reach a verdict.  The path to good decision-making is paved with several crippling, if not lethal, obstacles. 

The above refers to problems mentioned in the essays “Is Everyone ‘LOCO’?” and “The Eleventh Commandment”, posted at  Are these problems insuperable?  If so, does that mean that we should consider carefully the intended and unintended consequences of our individual and collective decision-making, in order to do the least harm possible?


Announcements—in Abbondanza!

FOR EVERYONE.  The Juan M. Sanchez Adobe and Museum is planning to establish a permanent Simon’s Brick Yard display. On March 24, 2007 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. there will be a Simon’s Brickyard photo event at the Sanchez Adobe. Everyone who has pictures to share from the Simon’s Brickyard era please bring your pictures to the Adobe for scanning. If you have any old pictures of Montebello, please drop by.  For more information, Montebello Historical Society, (323) 887-4592. 

FOR FAMILIES AND RETIREES.  Join the Montebello Housing Development Corporation this Saturday, March 24, 2007, for its Pasadena Homeownership Opportunities Fair. 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Villa Parke Community Center, 363 East Villa Street, Pasadena.  Admission is free and the information is useful to us who labor, learn or live in Montebello.  Seminar topics will include first-time homebuyers, financial literacy, the Cal Home program, and refinancing existing loans, to help first-time homebuyers experience the American dream of homeownership.  (323) 722-3955. 

FOR RETIREES.  Sign up today for facility membership.  The YMCA offers fitness classes ideal seniors:  line dancing, fit forever, water exercise, and circuit training!  View our facility and receive more information.  2000 W. Beverly Blvd in Montebello, (323) 887-9622. 

Are you interested in hip hop, jazz, ballet, or tumbling?  The Montebello-Commerce YMCA will be offering Dance Camp in July.  Contact Erin Romo for more information, (323) 887-9622.  

FOR FAMILIES.  Second Annual Jazzy Bingo.  On Saturday, March 24, Schurr High School's Band will hold its Second Annual Bingo from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the big gym.  $15.00 pre-registration gets you dinner, entrance to the event, and two free bingo cards.  (Yes, children are welcome and may play along with their parents.)  Entertainment by SHS' own jazz band. Bingo will follow in which you can win great prizes.  During the intermission the jazz band will perform again. For a pre-registration form, email and one will be sent to you via email. 

FOR COMMUNITY LEADERS.  Win $500 for your National Volunteer Week Recognition Event!  Thousands of organizations across the country are gearing up for National Volunteer Week 2007 (April 15-21) and will use the President's Volunteer Service Award to honor their volunteers.  We want to help you celebrate your volunteers with a $500 cash award.   Go to  to sign up to become an official Certifying Organization and start honoring your volunteers with the President's Volunteer Service Award.  

FOR FAMILIES AND YOUTH.  March 24 at 10 a.m. Montebello Ponytail Opening Day at City Park.  March 30 from 6-9 p.m. Summer Recreation Sneak Preview celebrating first annual George Hensel Day.  Showcasing summer camp, swim lessons, teen activities, concerts, etc.  Free program coupons will be raffled to those in attendance.  Pre-registration for summer programs will be available.  April 7 at 8 a.m. Summer Youth Employment Program will distribute 150 applications for those between 14 and 21.  Come before 8 a.m.  For more information:  323.887.4540. 

FOR MOTORISTS.  A new red-light camera enforcement program began on March 1.  The system employs state-of-the-art digital and video cameras and will eventually monitor up to ten of the city's highest risk intersections starting with Montebello and Paramount Boulevards.  For the first thirty days, only warning notices will be issued.  On April 1, citations (fines) will be sent to violators.  From  



Fun Fact

 The largest toy distributor in the world is McDonald’s.



You Don’t Say!

* The Puritans loaded more beer than water onto the Mayflower before they cast off for the New World. 

* A brewery was one of Harvard College's first construction projects so that a steady supply of beer could be served in the student dining halls.

* The distillation of whiskey led to the first test of federal power, the Whiskey Rebellion.

* George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed brewing or distilling their own alcohol beverages. 

* The Colonial Army supplied its troops with a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey. 

* Abraham Lincoln held a liquor license and operated several taverns. 

* Religious services and court sessions were often held in the major tavern of Colonial American towns. 

* Alewives in Colonial America brewed a special high proof "groaning ale" for pregnant women to drink during labor. 


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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