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Montebello E-News

 May 3, 2007

It’s human nature to take time to connect the dots. … 
There can be a day of reckoning when you wish
you had connected the dots more quickly…
Former Vice President Al Gore, speaking on global warming


 In This Issue

 1. Why Be Surprised?  We Created This Mess

2.     Walks outside the Box, Part 3

3.     Announcements

4.     Fun Fact

5.     The Flashback Quarterback on Government Mistakes

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


 Online Community Lesson

 Why Be Surprised?  We Created This Mess

Thou knowest the over-eager vehemence of youth,
how quick in temper, and in judgment weak.
Homer, Greek poet, eighth century B.C. 

          You might recall the incident at Montebello High School on March 27, 2006.  There is an interesting history on the Internet about the incident, .  The ludicrous reaction by many Americans to our incident underscores points made in E-News essays about incomplete or inaccurate information affecting our judgment. 

          Two days ago there was a large march in Los Angeles for immigrant rights.  Key public officials spoke to youth, asking that youth stay in class instead of participating in the march.  Cardinal Roger Mahoney said that youth could write letters to elected officials.  Mayor Villaraigosa said that students could have discussions in class.  Another person said that it was unsafe for students to be on the streets.  But all the urging and encouraging begged a question:  why would students want so much to participate in a march instead of channeling their energy through other means to effect immigration reform? 

          Certainly, there is hypocrisy among some, if not many, of the youth.  They are looking for a reason to ditch class.  But there are some, if not many, youth who, perhaps with some apprehension, are concerned about what new immigration laws would do to their families. 

          Why would the sincere students choose to march?  Would it be that American democratic capitalism, as practiced these days, gave them no choice?  Would it be that our schools, with their emphasis on curriculum instead of practicum, and theory instead of effective civic engagement, have failed to provide youth with effective options for addressing immigration reform?  Could “No Child Left Behind” and the University of California’s “a through g” requirements be contributing to the civic disability of today’s youth?         

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.  Youth choose to be truant and participate in an immigration march because

(a) a march is a social event.

(b) the march affects their families directly.

(c) they are unfamiliar with any effective alternative. 

2. What effective alternatives are there?

(a) Business education which could be applied immediately to help support one’s family.

(b) An elective course in civic engagement.

(c) An open assembly of youth to discuss and recommend with regard to salient issues.



Walks outside the Box, Part 3


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 around 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.  Here we change the subject to the plague of graffiti in Montebello. 

On April 21, the City of Montebello had a graffiti-cleanup day.  It was good seeing adults and youth participate.  My team worked behind Montebello High School. 

I had observations which led to the thought that we would benefit from a walk outside the box.  First, the city employee who was our team leader said that taggers would soon tag what we had painted over.  (This, in fact happened.  The next morning there were large tags on one wall where we had painted over.)  Also, while we painted over much graffiti, we had only four colors, which meant that we created patchwork which would be obvious to the passerby.  Finally, there was a good number of youth and adults, but during the hour of signup in the morning, there was little mingling. 

          So where would a walk around the block take us?  On my team there was a realty broker.  He and I spoke of the possibility of an appraiser reporting on the decrease in property value because of the graffiti, this reduction to be added to the value of the loss from graffiti.  Why would this be important?  An act of graffiti resulting in a loss of $400 or more becomes a felony under California law.  An appraisal would be a professional evaluation that the loss from graffiti were more than the cost of labor and a new paint job.  Thus, every act of graffiti could become a felony. 

          One might say that state statute or case law does not include an appraisal in the loss from an act of graffiti.  But remember that we are taking a walk around the box, which means that we have chosen not to subject ourselves to priorities and values which would constrain us from exploring effective solutions.  (The epithet for such boldness would range from pioneer to maverick to loose cannon, depending on whom one asked.) 

          If we continued walking around the box, other possibilities would occur to us.  In fact, we must consider other possibilities, because the most effective solution would be holistic, starting with prevention, going to apprehension, and finishing with detention of a type which did not become a badge of honor for a tagger. 

          This need for a holistic solution would present an opportunity for a group of residents to come together, discuss, and present a proposal for an innovative, comprehensive solution to the rest of us for discussion, refinement, and implementation.  I would be among the first to join the group. 

          Importantly, the group should know about, but not be constrained by, state law.  If a challenge came later, that would be dealt with then.  (Remember the discussion in “Is Everyone ‘LOCO’?, Part 4” about the large diversity in California and a possible solution coming through greater autonomy for communities?)          




FOR EVERYONE.  Montebello City Council meeting on Wednesday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m. at city hall.  Come before then to sign up if you intend to speak.  Montebello City Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, May 15, at 7:00 p.m. at city hall.  For more information:  323.887.1200. 

FOR YOUTH AND TEACHERS.  Are you a young person?  Do you have an idea that will make every day National and Global Youth Service Day?  Do you need the funding and resources to get things going?  The YSA-Youth Venture Program can help!  For  application tools and more information about the YSA-Youth Venture Partnership Program, please visit  Application submission deadline is May 14, 2007 5:00 p.m. EST.  

FOR TEACHERS.  Deadline: June 11, 2007.  The National Endowment for the Arts' “Learning in the Arts for Children and Youth” funding program is designed to advance arts education for children and youth in  school- or community-based settings.  This category supports in-depth, curriculum-based arts education experiences that occur over an extended period.  Learning in the Arts projects may take place in school- or community-based settings and should focus on children and youth between 5 and 18.  Visit the NEA Web site for complete program information and application instructions:  

FOR EVERYONE.  Deadline: June 29, 2007/  Keep America Beautiful has developed a new Graffiti Hurts ( ) national funding program to help communities kick-start or intensify their local graffiti-prevention activities. The 2007 Graffiti Hurts Grant Program allows communities to apply for a grant of $2,000.  Any of the following groups are eligible to apply for a grant:  nonprofit, civic, and community organizations, including neighborhood groups (e.g., Neighborhood Watch); crime prevention associations, civic clubs or organizations, and other nonprofit groups; youth groups/schools, including any group of youth such as Girl/Boy Scouts, 4-H, Girls/Boys Clubs, YW/YMCAs, and students in a class, grade, or school club; government agencies, including police departments or other law enforcement; and city, county, state, and federal government agencies, or subdivisions within these agencies (e.g., department of public works). Applications are available at the Keep America Beautiful Web site:  

FOR EVERYONE.  Deadline: July 31, 2007.  In keeping with the wishes of its benefactor to help poor immigrants advance within the United States and become productive citizens, the Ray Solem Foundation is offering one-time grants of up to $10,000 each to nonprofit organizations that have found creative ways to help immigrants in the U.S. further their verbal English language skills.  Applications will be evaluated on the basis of the degree of creativity, imaginativeness, innovation, and success shown in the organization's approach to learning verbal English. Funding will be awarded to continue ongoing work performed by the recipient organization; there are no restrictions on the use of foundation grants.  Visit the foundation's Web site for grant program guidelines and application instructions:



Fun Fact


 Rinsing your mouth with a mixture of water and baking soda can almost instantly eliminate your craving for sweets.  From a local newsletter.



The Flashback Quarterback on Government Mistakes



As population grows and results in a more complex society, more mistakes will be made unless we change the way in which we make decisions, as discussed in the essay “How Little We Know”.  While the example below probably would affect nobody in Montebello, each of us might recall an incident when complexity resulted in incorrect information and wasted time—if not grief and a loss of money:


Nearly 250 Washington Volunteers in Service to America (VISTAs) have found themselves with more worries and less food on their plates since September 1, when Washington’s department of social and health services figured out they were giving them too much help. … Dennis Stewart, the western regional director for the USDA Food Stamp Program, says, “We became aware that Washington state misinterpreted the rule, and the policy from [the federal government] never changed.”


Washington had misinterpreted the rule for nearly 13 years. …


          As reported by Billy Joyce in an AmeriCorps listserv, April 20, 2007.


 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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