Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 10, 2010



 Mountain Views News Saturday, July 10, 2010 

RICH Johnson


The Cost of 

 Once again, certain citizens of Sierra 
Madre have gathered together to stage 
yet another protest about something. 
This time its’ about the proposed 
water rate hikes. Don’t get me wrong, 
I absolutely believe in the right to free 
speech. However, I don’t believe that 
anyone should use that right to deceive 
and mislead. And recently, in an effort 
to garner 50% plus 1 of the water rate 
payer signatures against the rate hike, 
deception has become the name of the 

 And, therein lies the real problem. This is not a game. 
Everyone that I have ever met in this town has always said they 
want to maintain the “village character”, “small town charm” 
and “independence” that Sierra Madre is priviledged to have. 
Everyone wants it, but there are some who don’t want to pay for 
it. Maybe they think we should all just play the lottery and wait 
until someone wins and gives the money back to the city.

 It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, to understand that the cost 
of the city maintaining its wells and water system is increasing 
daily. Nor does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that if we 
don’t take care of what we have, it will soon no longer be able to 
serve us. You may be asked to sign a protest, but if the rate hike is 
rejected, what then? No one is offering any alternative to the rate 
increase. Instead, they are busy leafleting cars, mailing unsigned 
letters and soliciting signatures to stop the fee increase. What, 
pray tell, is the alternative? If you’ve already signed but want 
to change your mind, call the City Manager or come to council 
meeting Tuesday. Don’t become a victim of misinformation.

 There are some realities that we all must face. If we want to play, 
we have to pay. Freedom, independence , is not free.

P.S. - If you want to pay less, with the new fee structure, conservation 
will lower your bill, a benefit that we do not have now.


Mountain Views


Publisher/ Editor

Susan Henderson

City Editor

Dean Lee 


Patricia Colonello



Art Director

Allison Kirkham

Production Assistant

Richard Garcia


Jacqueline Truong

Lina Johnson


Teresa Baxter

Pat Birdsall

Bob Eklund

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Stuart Tolchin

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Hail Hamilton 

Rich Johnson

Chris Bertrand

Mary Carney

La Quetta Shamblee

Glenn Lambdin

Greg Wellborn

Ralph McKnight

Trish Collins

Pat Ostrye

Editorial Cartoonist

Ann Cleaves


John Aveny 

The View From A Green Pickup

Thanks to those who 
were kind and generous to 
me during the parade. Yes, 
many smiled and called out 
my name as they saw me 
pass by. And many others 
chose not to throw things 
at me. 

 I had the distinct privilege of riding in the 
truck bed of Kim Clymer-Kelly’s green 1961 
Chevy, oops, Chevrolet pickup truck. As many of 
you noticed, I was standing, leaning on the top 
of the cab. The paint of this weather beaten 49-
year old vehicle came off on my forearms, soon 
making me look like the Incredible Hulk, minus 
the muscles.   I was suddenly an advocate for going 
green, literally. By the way, I had the privilege of 
sharing the back of the truck with editor Susan 
Henderson, her two granddaughters and fellow 
columnist Howard Hays. 

 I discussed an arrangement with Howard that 
he, being more liberal than I, should wave solely 
to folks on the left side of Sierra Madre Blvd. I 
would wave solely to folks on the right side. 
Actually I ended up devoting as much time to the 
lefties as the righties. And so did Howard. 

But where in the world was Stuart Tolchin?

 I’m flattered to be in the parade. The downside 
is I miss out on watching it. I have an idea. I 
suggest we switch off. The half of us who watch the 
parade one year ride in the parade the following 
year. And the half of us in the parade, can watch 
the parade the following year. We just have to be 
sure and find another wonderful belly dancer like 
Katreyla Angus.

 Switching gears dramatically I want to wax 
seriously for a moment and commend John 
Crawford for toning down the rancor (a bit) 
on his blog. Lately, he has been publishing 
alternative views of very important issues such 
as the proposed water rate hike. John reports on 
issues from his perspective. Whether he is right 
or wrong is up to you. But we, as the electorate, 
need to be informed as to all sides and positions 
on issues that affect us. That being said, I can’t 
recommend you read the comments portion of 
John’s blog. It is all too often vitriolic, accusatory, 
and mean spirited. Reader beware.

 Thank you again Sierra Madre for the privilege 
of being a part of this wonderful city. 

HAIL Hamilton

My Turn

Are California 
Schools Really 
as Bad as Some 

 Ballot Measure CC fell far short--Yes 
53.75%, No 46.25%--of the necessary 
two-thirds majority to pass. But what does the measure’s failure 
really mean? 

 Does it mean that urban school districts, like Pasadena 
Unified, are mismanaged so badly they’re unable to gather the 
support of the local communities they serve? Does it mean 
affluent citizens just don’t want to pay for public schools their 
children don’t attend? Or does it mean public schools should get 
by with the money they have by cutting programs and laying off 

 The failure of Measure CC means all these things and is 
indicative of the public’s loss of confidence in our public school 
system. Pasadena’s measure is only one of many similar recent 
school bond measures not being approved by voters. On Tuesday, 
a similar Los Angeles measure also failed, and I predict others in 
the near future will fail as well.

 But are California schools really as bad as some claim? Not 
according to a Rand Corporation study:

 “Californians were once proud of their state’s public K–12 
education system, but there have been signs in the last few 
decades that the system has slipped badly relative to its own past 
performance and that of other states’ school systems. Although 
there is reason to be concerned about California’s public K–12 
schools, there is also signs of improvement. 

 “The results are not uniformly discouraging; California’s 
schools compare favorably to those in other states in some respects. 
But overall, the comparisons are unfavorable to California more 
often than not. And in many instances, the results support the 
impression that California’s relative standing in the nation has 
declined over the last three decades, and especially since the 
finance reform legislation in the 1970s.

 “California’s demography presents extraordinary challenges 
to public education and it may be the case that these challenges 
cannot be effectively met unless the state’s K–12 system is funded 
at relatively high levels. However, California school districts have 
experienced comparatively low levels of funding compared to 
funding in most other states. California’s schools have been further 
stressed by extreme fluctuations in real spending per pupil. These 
relatively low funding levels in California’s K–12 schools reflect 
comparatively low effort relative to the state’s capacity.

 “The comparatively low funding afforded K–12 public 
education in California can also be seen in the resources the 
schools are able to make available to their students. A substantial 
portion of the state’s teachers are not fully qualified and state 
certified. California continues to have the second highest pupil-
teacher ratio of any state. And despite substantial progress in 
dealing with school facilities over the past 10 years, California 
continues to lag the nation in addressing K–12 facility needs.

 “The combination of a student population with relatively 
great needs, relatively low funding levels, and relatively inadequate 
re-sources may have contributed to California’s comparatively 
low levels of student academic achievement. California NAEP 
scores are at the bottom of the distribution of participating 
states; California’s minorities’ scores are particularly low. There 
is, however, a bright spot: California is making statistically 
significant annual gains in mathematics and English scores.

 “California students’ nonacademic outcomes present a 
mixed picture. California lags other states in terms of high school 
graduation rates but is catching up. California generally lags 
other states in college continuation and is falling further behind. 
Teenage pregnancy rates are much higher in California than in 
most other states, but they are rapidly decreasing. And California 
is roughly similar to other states in the rates of substance abuse 
and teenage crime arrests.”

 Unfortunately, the ongoing conversation about public education 
in California and the failure of Measure CC won’t change the 
reality: PUSD needs local funds to stabilize its budget. The state’s 
fiscal crisis is not likely to disappear in the near future, and at 
the end of the conversation, we will still have to fill a $23 million 
gap just to maintain the current level of educational services and 
academic achievement. 

 Cutting programs and laying off more teachers is not the 

The Green Pick Up Gang: (l to r) Columnists Kim Clymer-Kelley, Howard Hays, and Rich 
Johnson. Cub reporter, Maheilia Thomas and friend ‘hitched’ a ride back in the green 
truck after riding their scooters along the parade route with their Daisy Troop. Also, 
ridering in the green truck was MVNews Cub Reporter Maila Thomas (right) and Cub 
Paper Delivery Person, Milania Thomas (far right). Also shown, Fred Thomas, father of all 
the MV News Cub staff and son of publisher Susan Henderson. Photo by S. Henderson

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The Exciting 
Without Any 

 From November 16, 2007 
through March 27, 2010 my column was entitled 
“Stuart Tolchin on Life”. Suddenly, without 
warning, on April 3, 2010 my articles started 
to appear without seque and have continued 
to appear in this naked fashion. Why did this 
happen and does anyone care? Really it makes 
little difference to anyone including me; but I 
wonder about it. Is there some rhyme or reason 
explaining my article’s loss of LIFE?

 Yes, I know this concern sounds silly, but the 
maintenance of habits and rituals are important. 
I applaud people who create rules for themselves 
and remain committed to maintaining these 
rules. Years ago, in my single parent days, a 
young man from Malaysia lived for a couple of 
years with my son, my daughter, and me. He 
was a complete vegetarian who had never tasted 
flesh and had no interest in broadening his diet. 
He said he did not follow this meatless diet for 
religious reasons but instead followed the diet out 
of his respect for his parents and out of habit. I 
was touched by his fidelity and was surprised 
when his mother berated him for eating onions. 
She related to her son as if he were a wild rebel 
who did not respect the religion and culture of his 
family and dishonored them by eating onions and 
other filthy things that grew below the soil. At 
some later time I discussed the dietary rules with 
the son who explained “Some rules you follow 
and some you don’t. It is important to make your 
own rules and follow them.”

 Life presents us with difficult decisions every 
day. I was in San Francisco this weekend and 
noticed that pedestrians as a rule ignore stoplights 
and cross streets when they believe it is safe to do 
so, instead of allowing themselves to be ruled 
by traffic lights. This individualistic behavior 
probably typifies the difference between a typical 
San Franciscan and a typical Angeleno, if such 

stereotypic individuals actually exist. San 
Franciscans, I guess have decided to make their 
own decisions based upon something other than 
the law and the functioning of traffic lights. These 
decisions are based on life-experience and really 
seem perfectly reasonable. I have an ongoing 
debate with some religious friends. These folks 
maintain that they live their lives according to 
the tenets of their religion and assert that without 
their religion they would not know right from 
wrong. It is their religion that guides their way 
rather than their life experience or education or 
anything else. They assert that by staying true to 
their religion they are following God’s will and 
seem pretty certain of finding an eternal resting 
place in Heaven.

 Rarely do I believe the assertions of the religious. 
I believe that cafeteria-like they follow some rules 
and ignore others and generally violate even their 
own rules. I do not experience the religious as 
taking greater joy in living than anyone else. 
Perhaps I am wrong. Life is full of surprises. 
Really, I think Life is like the card-game described 
in one of my favorite Sport Books from which the 
movie ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’ was made. In the 
book and movie, Major League Baseball players 
on the road spend their time in hotel lobbies 
trying to take advantage of fans who just want to 
associate with them. The players attempt to lure 
unsuspecting strangers into a game of TEGWAR, 
the exciting game without any rules. The players 
make up the rules as they go along always trying 
to take advantage of the stranger. Frequently the 
strangers apply a previously made-up rule to their 
own advantage and actually win. The players 
don’t really seem to mind and use the experience 
to prepare for the next game. After all they have a 
lot of time to kill until they can go Home because 
always the Road Trip ends.

 Well, life is a lot like that. We all know that 
our trip is going to end and eventually we’ll have 
to go home. That really is the only rule, but we 
make up other rules or choose to follow someone 
else’s rules. The time goes by and at some point 
the trip ends. Our Life is what we made of it and 
continue to make of it. This is Stuart Tolchin On 
Life and inviting you to join me in another game 


Mountain Views 

Mission Statement

The traditions of 
the community 
newspaper and 
the concerns of 
our readers are 
this newspaper’s 
top priorities. We 
support a prosperous 
community of well-
informed citizens. 
We hold in high 
regard the values 
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quality of life in our 
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resources. Integrity 
will be our guide. 




 I’ve got to hand it to Mr. Tolchin - gun, climate, and food control, all in one 
editorial! Instead of “Self Defense,” it should have been titled, “CASTRO 

 Given Mr. Tolchin’s interpretation of the constitution, it might be good to reflect 
upon the Bill of Rights in light of The Declaration of Independence and one of its 
most famous lines, “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

 Life - The Second Amendment was crafted not solely for personal defense on the 
frontier, but to also provide an avenue of last resort for citizens against government 
out of control. This is because gun control works - you only need ask one of 
the kids who fought in the streets of Hungary or Tiananmen Square, or today’s 
starving North Korean. The history of this young and great country includes the 
hard facts of slavery, internment of citizens, Bull Connor and his police dogs, and 
a third of children conceived today being killed with the Government’s consent 
(Now here is an Inconvenient Truth). With these realities, why is there reason 
to believe that all such dips in our history have been written and are behind us.

 Liberty - Mr. Tolchin fails to recognize that when government gains power over 
the individual, it is only through surrender of citizens’ freedoms, as there is not 
an excess of power sitting around waiting to be assigned to the individual or 
government. The Constitution was designed to constrain government, and when 
it comes to gun control, so many of our liberties have already been surrendered. 
As an owner your name is maintained on a list that notes your weapon(s) and 
ammunition purchases - a perfectly good starting place for any young police 

 And the pursuit of happiness - Mr. Tolchin would place the government between 
me and my occasional Sierra Donut apple fritter because the government knows 
better than me, or worse - I can’t be trusted to make my own choices on such 
matters. First they came for my gun, and then my apple fritter! Perhaps the 
motivation here is economic stimulus through the hiring of tens of thousands of 
government workers to enforce these food consumption laws and crack down on 
illegal drive-by donut purveyors or the rouge individual who drops a forbidden 
piece of dough into a fish fryer (soon to be banned) behind closed curtains in 
their home. Will neighbors be rewarded for turning such individual in, “There 
officer - I could smell a French curler or maybe a cinnamon roll waffing through 
the air from that house.” Or perhaps its a deficit reduction opportunity, where a 
package of cigarettes or my apple fritter would both come with a $3 tax. To re-
interpret a quote from the late and great Charlton Heston, “I’ll give you my apple 
fritter, when you take it from my cold dead hands!”

 To wrap this up, should the day ever come that Mr. Tolchin finds a freedom that 
he would be willing to take up arms for, feel free to meet-up at the barricades, but 
bring something other than a wind chime and a hug. Val Usle, Sierra Madre

MVNews this week:  Page 13