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Montebello E-News

 May 10, 2007

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
Robert Kennedy, 1925 – 1968, U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator, brother to President John F. Kennedy and currently-serving
U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy


In This Issue

 1. Delightful Doodle or Awesome Art?

2.     Walks outside the Box, Part 4

3.     Announcements

4.     Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

5.     The Flashback Quarterback on Virginia Tech

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


Online Community Lesson

Delightful Doodle or Awesome Art?

          What is the difference between delightful doodle and awesome art?  Let us phrase this question in a different way:  what is the difference between a solution and a sustainable solution?  This can make all the difference in the world—literally. 

          When a writer for a student newspaper points to a problem and then offers an answer, she or he is offering a solution.  When a youth in a service club volunteers for “Christmas at the Cannon”, he or she is providing a solution.  When we paint over graffiti, as we did on April 21, we are implementing a solution.  When Edison enables the 99 Cents Only store to sell energy-efficient light bulbs, Edison is making possible a solution. 

          But none of these is a sustainable solution.  Each of us is capable of offering a solution, as is shown in this issue’s “Flashback Quarterback”.  But a sustainable solution necessitates additional thought, because a sustainable solution accomplishes more.  These questions help us understand a sustainable solution: 

·        is there a solution which is more cost-effective or can fund itself?

·        is there a quicker way to reach and stay at a desired goal, that is, eliminate the problem?

·        is there a solution which is more community- and environmentally-friendly? 

With regard to student writers, they need exposure to other than mainstream thinking.  Why?  Most of us adults do not know what sustainable solutions are, so we are unable to teach youth to look for such solutions.  We must make room in the lesson plan for an exploration of ideas for sustainability.  “Sustainable” and “sustainability” become key words in a Google search.  The good news is that there are many Americans pursuing sustainable solutions. 

If we look at student volunteers helping feed the hungry, we realize that they, too, need exposure to other than mainstream thinking.  Instead of helping feed people because they are poor, can we feed them as a “thank you” because they have done something for the community?  Can we develop a program of micro-enterprise through which the poor can supplement their income?  (If, according to the April 28, 2007, Los Angeles Times, Caltech is to make olive oil from the olive trees on its campus, what is holding us back from making the most of Montebello’s resources?) 

As for graffiti, a sustainable solution begins with the discussion in last week’s “Walks outside the Box” essay.  Working within the confines of state statute and public law, and depending on whether our police department have sufficient funds, will not bring us a sustainable solution to graffiti.  We must be willing to experiment in order to find what works best for Montebello. 

In the case of Edison, imagine what would happen if the corporate behemoth announced a contest in which students could have their college tuition paid in full.  Interested students would sign up to advocate conservation in their neighborhoods.  The best performing neighborhoods and the student advocates for those neighborhoods would get cash awards.  (The latest UN report on global warming is cause for additional concern, but the report is being ignored because of the anticipated economic cost.  I submit that, with outside-the-box thinking, we might yet tackle global warming successfully.)         

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. A sustainable solution can be defined as a solution which

(a) puts an end to a problem.

(b) is more cost-effective or can fund itself.

(c) does not disrupt the community or the environment. 

2. What factors would help us find sustainable solutions.

(a) An exploration of what Americans are doing elsewhere.

(b) Updating curriculum so that it be timely. 

(c) A willingness to experiment in search of sustainable solutions, and a belief in the words of Robert Kennedy:  “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly”. 



Walks outside the Box, Part 4

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish literary critic, playwright and essayist,
1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950

“Walks outside the Box” is about finding solutions when others shrug their shoulders, despair or offer palliatives.  In part 2, we looked at possible tools for self-defense against a mass killer.  In part 3, we looked at how we might begin to reduce graffiti in Montebello.  Here we look at the incident involving the May 1, 2007, demonstrators and the Los Angeles Police Department. 

          Combining a May 3 report in the Montebello Comet and a May 5 report in the Los Angeles Times, we learn that agitators in McArthur Park hurled rocks and bottles at officers from the Los Angeles Police Department.  The officers responded by giving a warning which, apparently, many people in the park did not hear.  The warning was followed by officers advancing on people, hitting people with clubs and firing bean bags.  It appears as if the officers violated rules of engagement set up after the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.   

I expect that several, if not many, lawsuits would be filed, costing Los Angeles City taxpayers millions of dollars. 

I find certain troubling questions coming to the fore, these questions suggesting—but not proving—that the Los Angeles Police Department, the city, and our society as a whole have again failed to take a walk outside the box in order to come up with a sustainable solution.  (Why did I say, “Suggesting—but not proving”?  Two newspaper accounts are far from enough to prove police misconduct.  Besides, as stated in a past essay, we have to be cognizant of the lack of sufficient, accurate information.) 

·        Why was the officers’ priority to disburse people in the park instead of surrounding and detaining the agitators?  (Please do not say that the preferred tactic would be to let the agitators go.)

·        Why did the police commission not contract with videographers to independently document the agitators, with whom the police could have dealt later?  (Imagine how useful a few hundred dollars spent on documentation could have been.)

·        Why does city ordinance and state statute not state that agitators would receive a larger penalty because they endangered others?  (Including paying half of whatever the City of Los Angeles would have to pay out in settlements in coming months.)

·        Where were the march organizers?  (When and where did their responsibility end?  Did they brief demonstrators on behavior and on what to do in case of an incident?  Should they not have the obligation to do so?)

·        Why does a victim of police misconduct deserve punitive damages, when that money would be more effectively spent by an independent group of residents to monitor and educate police and the public?  (Had money paid out by the City of Los Angeles in the Rampart scandal several years ago gone into monitoring and education, we might not have had the May 1 incident.)

·        Why could not police departments have “reserve mediators”, who would be paid to be the “first contact” in certain situations?  (Would not a group of clergy have been more effective in dispersing the people in McArthur Park?  Does anyone think it odd that anyone other than an officer could and should defuse tension?)

·        According to “LOCO”, discussed in a previous essay, there is a limit to the effectiveness of training professionals.  (Does not video footage show “peaceful” demonstrators resisting officers and, thereby, aggravating the incident?  Should we not admit that any large demonstration is inherently dangerous because we do not know the motives of all demonstrators?  If we do admit as much, is it right to expect officers to be superhuman in thought and action while the rest of us have the right to engage in subhuman thought and action?) 

 In commenting on the May 1 incident, Los Angeles City Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa reportedly said, "As mayor, I'm doing everything I can to make it right."  Everything?  And why cannot the rest of us participate in making it right?



FOR YOUTH.  The children’s librarian at the main Montebello library, Ms. Vicki Delson, invites youth in grades nine through twelve to apply as volunteers to the library’s summer reading program for children.  If you like helping children learn, you will like this, according to the librarian.  For more information, call 323.722.6551. 

FOR MOTORISTS.  To increase public safety, red-light camera installation should now have been completed at two more high-risk intersections, Greenwood and Washington, and Garfield and Via Campo.  During May, only warning notices will be issued.  Beginning June 1, citations will be sent to violators.  From the City of Montebello Web site, .



Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

Germany, whose skies often are cloudy, has become the world's leading producer of solar power. About half of the world's solar electricity last year was generated in Germany, mostly due to a 2000 law that forces its big utility companies to support new solar businesses by purchasing their electricity at rates that make the alternative energy an attractive investment.  Abstracted in UN Wire, May 7, 2007, from an article in the Washington Post, May 5, 2007.



The Flashback Quarterback on Virginia Tech


Three and one-half weeks have passed since the killings at Virginia Tech.  Certainly, campus security across the country is being reviewed to try to prevent a recurrence.  I am disappointed, but not surprised, that no outside-the-box thinking has been highlighted in the news.  (If you know of or wish to contribute such thinking, please share.)   To exemplify the lack of outside-the-box thinking, I share three off-the-street answers to the question, “How can we guard against mass killings on college or high school campuses?”, as printed in the April 26, 2007, Wave, a local publication:


More security.  Place metal detectors at building entrances. Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing and if they are acting strange.


I don’t want to see our schools become prisons.  There should be psychiatric profiling of students and teachers should be trained to…look for troubled students who seem to be acting strangely.  They should be easy to spot.


It has to do with violence on television and movies.  People see [acts of violence] and get the idea to do the same thing.  It appears trendy.  I believe in freedom of speech but people must be more responsible with our freedoms.


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