Boulevard Sentinel


News and Views for Northeast
Los Angeles

March 2006


Merchants Blessed
by Lion Dancers

by Tom Topping
Boulevard Merchants in Eagle Rock, pleased to accept all the help they can get in the Year of the Dog, 2006, invited Chinese Lion Dancers from a traditional Chinese dance troupe to come by and bless their businesses for new year. The whole block was rocked by the pounding of drums and the smashing of cymbals, as the three teams of Lion Dancers brought action, color and excitement to a normally sedate Eagle Rock Saturday morning.
The event was organized by Elisa and Fidel Garcia, owners of Imix book store on Eagle Rock Boulevard. They had invited the "Immortals Lion Dancers" troupe to come and perform the traditional Lion Dance at their business last year, but were told the group really doesn't come out for just one business. This year, Elisa went to work, going door to door, asking for participation. The Rockin' Baby store, Blue Heeler, Twerp's and Dave's Chillin' and Grillin' all joined in to help, providing an envelope containing money and a handful of lettuce, which hang from the doorway, and are removed by the "Lion" as part of the ceremony.
The Lion Dance was initially a noble entertainment which gradually spread to the military and finally to the public. In the Tang dynasty, the lion dance was performed in a group of five lions of different colors. Each lion was followed by twelve men dressed in colorful costumes, with a red band 'round the forehead and a red colored brush in hand. These people were called 'lion-men' and they danced in tempo to the musical pieces called 'Tai-pin' melody.
On this day, however, traffic slowed to a standstill as the sidewalk overflowed with participants, camera clickers and onlookers, who were all there enjoying the show. The dancers bobbed and weaved as the drummers played on, with their colorful costumes glistening on this sunny February day, bringing a extra sense of celebration and goodwill to an already upbeat Saturday morning.
The "Immortals," an offshoot of a Monterey Park martial arts school, teaches both the Lion and Dragon forms of traditional Chinese dance. Three generations of the same family now participate, according to owner Jeff Chan. Suzanne Louie, proud mother of a nine and twelve year old lion dancer on this day, said, "They like it, it's exciting and fun." Happy New Year, the Year of the Dog, to everyone.


Taco Search

by Tom Topping
I love tacos, and luckily for me, I live in L.A. where I find a taco in every price and style. However, as this publication is all about Northeast Los Angeles, my Taco Story would only look at tacos from here.
Ah, I remember my first taco. Actually, I think my mother made the first taco I ever had. Cooking dinner that night started with a envelope of seasonings, Lawry's I think, that was mixed in with ground beef and other ingredients in a frying pan. Then, with a little lettuce, cheese and a hard-shell corn tortilla, dinner was served. It was good, but a little tricky as the hard shell would often shatter on the first bite, sending pieces of taco shell flying everywhere along with the filling. (burp! excuse me- I just finished eight tacos)
Perhaps I should have limited my search to a particular kind of taco or a particular kind of restaurant, as there are so many to choose from. From taco trucks, to sit down Mexican restaurants, and fast food joints to the mini-mex's (a Mexican food place in a mini-mall) I tried a wide array of those tasty treats we call tacos.
My friend, Toni Redhorse joined me on one occasion and it was helpful, as she comes from a traditional California Latino family. According to her, a taco is like a sandwich. You grab a tortilla and put almost anything in it you might like to eat, and allí! A taco is born. And according to Linda Stradley, on the web site "What's Cooking America," she confirms just that. She says the word taco is a generic term, and if you simply wrap a tortilla around almost any filling, you have a taco. She writes that the first known English language taco recipes appeared in California cookbooks in 1914, but the history of the taco goes way back before that, and even tells of the first "Taco Bash" held in the 1500's in New Spain (Mexico) by Hernan Cortéz, the original Conquistador explorer. The roots of the taco go back as far as the roots of the tortilla itself, to 3000 B.C.
With the taco being such a long standing part of Latino culture, it is no accident that my neighbors, who are from Mexico, absolutely make the best. When I'm lucky enough for them to invite me over, I get a big chunk of beef, slapped into a tortilla, covered with homemade avocado chunky salsa... it is pure taco heaven. But during my week, I find the convenience and flavor of a taco to be the perfect mid-afternoon meal. It's quick, cheap, filling and delicious. Here is my regular taco spots that I like to go to.
Pete's- Famous for its Blue Chip burger, the carne asada (steak) taco they serve is huge, and the meat is cooked with onions and bell peppers, and served with pico de gallo (chopped fresh tomatoes, onion and cilantro) and shredded lettuce. It's big enough to be a full meal on its own, and for $2.10, a good meal deal. They also have a hard shell taco that is good as well, with the typical seasoned ground beef, lettuce and cheese as its filling.
Troy's Burgers soft taco is similar to Pete's, but without the onion and bell pepper. The meat seems fresh and really tastes good on its own, like the tacos my neighbors make. It too is huge and overflowing and you get it all for $2.05.
Penny's hard shell taco is awesome. It has the seasoned ground beef, cheese and lettuce, but what sets it apart are the two huge tomato slices. Many times I see people who order the $1.95 treat, eat half of it and take the rest with them. The taco comes with two small packages of taco sauce, not too imaginative, but complement it well. I tried the carne asada soft taco there once, but I'll be nice and not mention it further. Order the hard shell taco- $1.95.
What's better than a taco from a taco truck? Over in Highland Park on York Boulevard near Ave. 53 is Tacos Estrellas, (tacos of the stars?) and that's where I get my "Mexican Style" tacos (my name for them). This style of taco comes on very small dollar size tortillas. At "Tacos Estrellas," tacos are served with the simple yet elegant onion and cilantro. They usually ask if you want the salsa, and with good reason. Their house recipe salsa is red and red hot, and if you're not used to very hot salsa, make sure you get it on the side. It is hot, but it is delicious, and to complicate your digestion further they include radish slices, pickled jalapeños and a slice of lemon. All this for $1.25 each, I usually get three.
As I tested the different tacos, I realized that the one thing that's always different are the salsas. Basically, the places that make their own fresh salsa are leaps and jumps above the rest.
Juanita's on Eagle Rock Boulevard is good, but the green salsa they have is out of this world. It's a very light green in color and according to worker there, is a tomatillo/ avocado recipe. The tacos are good, but it is worth going there just for the hot green salsa. Price: $1.75.
The restaurant and "mini-mex" style restaurant tacos are next. Elvira's has first class hard, soft, fish and chicken tacos and is located on Colorado near Argus. Her homemade salsa is right at the top, and the friendly home cooked atmosphere only adds to your dining enjoyment. About $2.00 each.
Huaraches on York across from Super A is another place to try tacos. Here you can get the Mexican style "dollar sized" tacos at a sit down place, and the special "three tacos and a drink for $2.99," beef or chicken, is a popular favorite. Each table has two bottles of salsa, one red, one green, just like salt and pepper.
La Fuentes is in the mini-mall on Colorado across from B of A, and their tacos and salsa are good, and they have a shady, cool hacienda atmosphere as well. Here you can enjoy some cervezas along with your meal, if you like. The price is reasonable.
Ernie Jr.'s has a long solid history of service in Eagle Rock. The original location on Colorado, taken by construction of the the Glendale Freeway, was the sight of many happy celebrations over the years (and some incredible bar-room brawls as well). Their current location on Broadway is blessed with a nice view and generous parking. Their hard shell tacos are everything you would expect of a traditional Mexican restaurant, plus, their salsa is excellent and every Tuesday, their hard shell taco is only $1.00. What a deal. If you add to this their selection of Margaritas and beers, and you can't go wrong at Ernie Jr.'s. (After a few margarita's just give 'em the credit card- hey- it's time to party!)
I have to include two other well known spots, even though the anti-corporate readers out there may cringe a little. Taco Bell and Jack in the Box. Surely some of the most widely loved (and heavily promoted) tacos on the planet are from these two corporate franchises.
Jack in the Box offers a monster taco for 99 cents as well as 2 regular tacos for the same price. They are both deep fried with a meat-like substance, then filled with lettuce. Although a little greasy, they are very tasty.
Taco Bell, after humble beginnings in the 1950's as Taco Tio (Uncle Taco) in San Bernardino and Barstow, is now part of Yum Foods Inc. whose operating profit was about 1.1 billion dollars in 2004. Their mainstay hard taco is still selling strong and for less than a dollar is a real cheap treat. The soft version is identical except for the tortilla, and the seasoned meat is still great, along with the crisp lettuce and bright yellow cheese. While not a homemade salsa, the "Hot" sauce is still good, and the little packets often end up in many a local kitchen cupboard to provide extra seasoning for favorite dinner-time recipes.
I hope you enjoyed my trip down Calle Taco, and soon, I hope to move on to cover local pizza places before the summer starts. I just hope my arteries and colon are up to the task. Until then, happy dining!


ERNC Spending Exposed
by Tom Topping
In a report just released last month from the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), detailed are most of the expenditures of the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council over the last three years. All Neighborhood Councils in the L.A. Neighborhood Council System have a yearly budget of $50,000 to spend on community improvement projects. Almost all of the expenditures listed seem appropriate, and add up to far less than what was available to be spent.
The funds that were spent went to things like paying for a professional person to record meeting minutes. Other funds were used to print and send out the occasional mailings to meet outreach requirements. Food was a popular item, both to offer all at meetings and to feed hungry volunteers after community beautification projects and the like. Every month, $500 was withdrawn from an ATM to fund the petty cash needs of the council.
Other items remain in question, however. No one could recollect what exactly was purchased from PREMIERITEMS .COM" during August of 2004, totaling about $1800 dollars. Other items from Ross Stores were unidentified as well. Former Treasurer Mark Ryan insists that all expenditures under his watch were appropriate, but records of these transactions and all item purchased with petty cash have been lost. Past President Dalila Sotelo directed Mr. Ryan to leave the records on his porch, and she would be by to collect them, but Ryan says they sat there for weeks, and now apparently have disappeared, no one know what happened to them.
Of $163,500 appropriated to ERNC since 5/29/2003, $92,721.89 remains un-spent, held in escrow by DONE.


DOT, Community Debate  Parking Devastation
In another round of community meetings, DOT officials and merchants squared off last month at a meeting of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council Transportation and City Services Committee meeting. The meeting was called to address the potential devastation of a four block commercial section of York Blvd., between Avenue 50 and Avenue 54.
The problem being discussed, was the alarming removal of almost 50 parking spaces from a busy commercial section of York Blvd. in Highland Park. It occurred as a result of the city resurfacing York Boulevard, which led the L.A.City Department of Transportation engineers to redesign the striping, adding left turn lanes and necessitating the removal of 39 spaces of street parking. The action effectively wiped out financial viability for dozens of local businesses who reported sales dropping off by 50 to 75% from the previous months.
As the meeting started, things were not looking good for the business people present. Frank Aguirre, representing 14th district Councilman Huizar, said, "With the left turn pockets installed, the councilman feels it will bring more safety to the community and to the residents of the area."
Mr. Roy Kim, senior transportation engineer from the city Department of Transportation got up and started to explain with an apologetic tone, "I have to kind of apologize for how this whole thing came about, because we normally do a little more coordination with the council office and other involved parties, but street services has gone in and changed their schedule on us... and we kind of ended up doing this in an insensitive way and I apologize for that."
After receiving a landslide of calls and e-mails from local merchants and attending meetings with council office representatives, D.O.T. workers returned and modified their original design and re-striped the street, shortening the left turn slots as much as they could and restoring as much parking as possible.
"I think we restored about fifteen of about 30-some that we took out in the first place, so we put back almost half of it back," said Kim.
(When Mr. Kim said almost half had been restored, my BS detector went off. I had driven it that day and his statement didn't ring true to me, so I went back and walked the entire area, counting the spaces removed, and spaces restored. I found that 39 spaces had been removed, and only eleven had been restored, a far cry from the 50% figure Kim gave. In fact, 11 out of 39 only makes 28%, meaning that less than a third of the original spots had been restored.)
Later, Kim tried to reconcile with the crowd, explaining that he was from a family that owned a small business. He explained that, as a city department, their job is to balance the safety needs of the community at large, with the parking needs of the business community. Then, in a surprisingly condescending move, he said, "Some of you, obviously, don't understand why we're doing this."
Apparently not finished making offensive statements, he then attempted to deflect blame by saying the Highland Park Neighborhood Council had asked them to cooperate and bring back as much parking as possible. He said, "It wasn't something we were trying to jam down anybody's throat, It isn't something that I have personal pleasure of doing..."
Overall, Mr. Kim said the actions of the D.O.T. were to improve the safety of the community at large, but although he may be an traffic engineer and knows a great deal about left turn lanes, he showed an incredibly near-sighted view of the overall needs of the community as far as safety if concerned. As a transportation engineer, apparently his job, his education and his experience is to only look at transportation safety, and that can leave quite a gap in the total picture of safety for the community at large.
In reality, any actions that can lead to empty abandoned storefronts, may, in fact, decrease overall community safety much more than the slight decrease in accident rates. Any economic decline in a commercial area adjacent to residential zones will affect the status of the entire neighborhood. Empty storefronts are magnets for graffiti and other crime. Is this a greater threat to community safety than preventing a .02% reduction in traffic accidents?
Finally, traffic accidents always have a way of happening, so every driver is required to have auto insurance. There is no insurance available to protect small businesses from the impact of having their parking removed.
Through it all, Jose Huizar, the council person, who definitely has the power to affect what city departments do in his district, is being pulled in two directions. D.O.T. officials are in contact with the councilman every day, who insist that they cannot make any exceptions to their left turn lane policy because, "If we make an exception here, we'll have to make it everywhere."
Local business advocates argue that a one-size-fits-all policy makes no sense. They say that in older areas of the city where streets are narrower, a different approach is required.
Fortunately, Councilman Huizar has come down on the side of his constituents, and has told the D.O.T. that he is not satisfied with only 40% of the parking restored, and has sent a memo to the D.O.T insisting that 100% be put back.
Anyone who has had dealings with city departments knows that the controversy may or may not be over. As of Wednesday, March 1, the curbs remain red and the left turn lanes remain, and local merchants are left in a kind of limbo, until it's over. The fat lady has not sung her tune yet.


Subject: The Griffith Park Master Plan
Dear Mr. Topping:
I can hear you saying, what does Griffith Park have to do with Eagle Rock? It's really quite simple, if the Department of Parks and Recreation have their way, Griffith Park will be turned into an Amusement Park, with all the open picnic spaces and playing areas commercialized, and all the thousands of people who now use them will have to look elsewhere for a green, free space to picnic or play.
They will start looking at those nice clean bathrooms, the neat play areas in the more affluent areas like Eagle Rock, and can you blame them? Then they will tell a friend and so on and soon our parks will be overcrowded and misused.
The information given is that Proposition K will be used to pay for this Multi-multi Million dollar project in Griffith Park and this is a gross misuse of taxpayers money, as this Proposition was voted in to maintain, build new equipment, new bathroom facilities, gymnasiums for ALL of Los Angeles parks, not for massive construction in just one park.
The Griffith Park Master plan calls for a hotel, a gymnasium, a culinary school, a pleasure pier, eight parking structures, aerial tramways, a baseball field, a wide promenade with shops on either side, widening of the Griffith Park road which will encroach on many of the existing picnic, and play areas, paving of fire trails for use by traffic, and all the necessary amenities required to support such a huge project.
The cry that the city needs the money is both misleading and false. It will take five to seven years to complete, during which the City will receive nothing. All those who have reviewed the plan do not see that there will be much profit even after completion. Certainly not enough to justify this huge outlay of taxpayers funds.
Daphne M. Despard

To: Tom
I've been an Eagle Rock resident since 1975 until a few years ago when I moved to Highland Park, and I really enjoy reading your newspaper. It always brings back a lot of wonderful memories.
I was very sad to hear about Charles Fessler passing away last year. However I was glad to read your article and glad he was remembered. My friend and I use to hang out at Sav-On and ask the homeless people to buy us beer because we where under age and that's when I first met Charles.
He was a very interesting person and taught me a lot. He taught me to love my country and respect it, and to always have respect for any veterans because they fought for our freedom. I was somewhat a obnoxious kid and I remember calling this old lady names because she told me to lower my voice. Then Charles told me to stop, and said David you only live once and the whole idea in life is to make as much friends as you can not enemies.
Ever since he told me that I really did change. I remember him being a heavy drinker living in and out of motels and sometimes on the streets. He had just gotten a divorce and then lost both his parents and it hit him hard. Then when it came to the inheritance between him and his brother Doug things got real ugly. I don't really know Doug's side of the story and I know they where fighting for years over the who got what.
I would run into Charles every now and then and every time he saw me he wouldn't shake my hand instead he would give me a big hug. He was a good person and I made sure to never take advantage of him. He would always make some friends to try to help him with his lawsuits and they would take his money, or some valuables his parents left him and then leave.
At the end of Charles life he could no longer drink and became somewhat paranoid. He carried a small tape recorder to record people in case something went wrong, he just lost trust in everybody around him sad to say. I wish he got to at least enjoy his share of what his parents left him and live a peaceful life.
He is someone I will never forget and I will never forget his stories he use to tell us. He remembered all the teachers from E.R.H.S. especially Mr Arpea who we both disliked, along with probably half of E.R.. Till this day I still love my country and like Charles said, "Always buy American made products." I appreciate you guys writing an article on him and I hope he will rest in peace finally.
Thank you,
David Hanne

Mildred Spirakus Kennedy

Mildred Spirakus Kennedy, long time Eagle Rock resident, passed away in her sleep, January 25, 2006, at the age of 83.
Born in Cleveland Ohio, August 3l, 1922, she moved to Eagle Rock in January 1957. A memorial service was held Sunday, January 29th at Kiefer & Eyerick Mortuary.
Mildred was survived by a brother, Arthur Spirakus of Cleveland Ohio, son, Tom Kennedy of Glendale, daughter Kathi Kukes of Eagle Rock, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. She will be missed by many.


Oxy Breaks Ground on Residence Hall
Occidental trustees and administrators broke ground Jan. 17 for the College's largest-ever residence hall – a $29 million, 273-bed structure being built near the corner of Rangeview Avenue and Avenue 49 on the south side of campus. It will be the College's 12th student residence hall.
The four-story building, which will stand on the site of the Rangeview Avenue tennis courts, is expected to open in fall 2007. The still-unnamed hall is the first student residence built in 20 years and will help meet student demand for on-campus housing – demand that has stretched existing capacity to the limit and produced a waiting list each summer. In particular, the new hall will make it possible to move more juniors and seniors back on campus. Roughly 70 percent of the student body currently lives in student residence halls.
The design by MVE Institutional of Irvine echoes Myron Hunt's original designs for the campus, with a tile roof, stucco exterior, and internal courtyards, as well as a number of classroom/multipurpose rooms. Multi-level parking is tucked underneath the building.
The new hall will be built according to Leadership in Engineering and Environmental Design standards, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to promote sustainable development that reduces energy and water use, incorporates recycled content, and improves indoor environmental quality.
Funding comes from revenue bonds issued by the College last year. Two of the three tennis courts now on the site will have to be relocated to meet NCAA requirements; the new master plan approved by the Board of Trustees on Dec. 6 calls for the two new courts to be built adjacent to the existing courts on the north side of Patterson Field.

Westfield Eagle Rock News
Robinson's-May-may become Macy's
A recent report at a local meeting last month revealed that Macy's may be coming to Eagle Rock. Since Federated stores bought the Robinson's-May chain of stores last year, community leaders and mall management have been holding their breath, waiting to see if the ax would fall, closing down another of the Robinson's-May locations like so many others. The best hope was that the store would be converted over to Macy's, another Federated store, and it looks like that will be happening as the Eagle Rock location has been a profitable one. Keep your fingers crossed. (Federated Stores owns Bloomingdales as well as Macy's and about a half dozen other department store chains, and in 2004, generated 689 million profit from 15.6 billion in total sales)
Seafood Market
Also soon to come at Westfield is the Seafood Market, catering to the growing Filipino community. It's rumored that some of the current tenants are not happy with the addition, are worried about the possibilities of unpleasant fishy aromas and have been complaining about it. Mall management asserts they are only trying to give the community businesses services it needs and wants.
Chucky Cheese in Full Swing
Eagle Rock's own Chucky Cheese opened early this year, and is still gleaming with newness. Besides Pizza and Beer, they have a wide selection of sandwiches, and a topflight salad bar as well. Some tables have a fantastic view of the Eagle Rock foothills and if you can take the noise of the video games, it is a fun place to have lunch.

New Chamber President-
Hits Ground Running-
or Running Aground?

by Tom Topping
Denise Miller, just installed as Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce President last month, is off to a powerful start, and chaired a focused and productive board meeting this month, February.
An issue over whether to contribute money to a center for the arts event was slated to go before a closed board session. This reporter asked whether an issue regarding the donating of Chamber funds, which really belong to the members, shouldn't be discussed in open session with all members allowed to be present? Ms. Miller requested that the reporter call her later to further discuss the question privately.
There was one tense moment when Chamber stalwart Kaye Beckham was inquiring into the intentions and motivations of Westfield Eagle Rock mall regarding "Seafood Market" a new tenant. The meeting was sounding more like a resident association than a Chamber of Commerce, when Denise did her best to "walk the line" and keep both sides happy, but unfortunately did neither.
Later, in a light moment discussing the upcoming meet and greet with Councilman Huizar which the Chamber co-sponsored, Ms. Miller joked that she was ready to start a pool over whether the Councilman would show up or not, and then added, "Tom, don't you print that!"

New Tenant for Old Ralphs
Super King is an independent and family operated grocery store that will be moving into the property formerly occupied by Ralph's on San Fernando Road. Super King has been in business for over ten years and has locations throughout California and bordering states. Super King caters to Middle Eastern, European and Asian communities. For more information:


Third Graders Witness History at JPL
When local Eagle Rock area school teacher Elizabeth
Jones scheduled her third graders field trip to Jet Propulsion Laboratory last year, she had no idea that the date would coincide with the launching of NASA's New Horizons mission to the planet Pluto. "It was miraculous" said Elizabeth, "I scheduled this field trip in September. Not only were we at JPL at the same time the launch was taking place, our tour group just happened to be in the observation area of the JPL Mission Control Room at the exact time of the launch. We saw history taking place, it was absolutely incredible!"
Jones and her class of 25 students from Westminster Academy in Eagle Rock are currently studying the Solar System and their January 19th field trip was designed to take advantage of JPL's relatively close location to Westminster's campus. Little did they know that the experience would be so exciting and relevant to their studies.
"Our tour leaders were quick to point out to the students that New Horizons will arrive at Pluto in the year 2015. Our third graders will be seniors in high school when this mission reaches its ultimate goal". Jones says she is thinking about having a reunion at JPL when New Horizons reaches Pluto and its moons in 9 years.
"As a teacher you try to plan field trips to really augment what you are doing in class, but I couldn't have planned what happened at JPL. I just want to give a huge 'thank you' to everyone at JPL. From the time we scheduled this trip through the tour and witnessing of the New Horizons launch, everyone really worked to make sure that the experience was meaningful and real. It just doesn't get any better."

Highland Park
Farmers Market Open in April
Los Angeles, CA, April 2006. The Old LA Certified Farmers Market will commence operations Tuesday, April 4, 2006 and open every Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm until November 2006. The market will specialize in California certified fresh produce, an array of other healthy and organic agricultural products and will feature prepared and packaged foods and hot entrees to go. The Grand opening celebration will feature live music, martial arts demonstrations, kids zone, local artists & crafters and more.
The market will be located in the parking lot adjacent to the Metro Gold Line Highland Park Station (Ave. 57 and Marmion Way). It is half block North from North Figueroa Street, where Highland Parks hidden little gems of shopping and restaurants are nestled.
A variety of vendors will provide advice, recipes and samples, and people who join the "Frequent Shoppers Club" program will be eligible to receive free gifts.
The North Figueroa Association (Highland Park Business Improvement District) is operating the Old LA Certified Farmers Market. "Old LA" is the designation given Historic Highland Park by the North Figueroa Association since it is one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Promotional partners for the grand opening event are: North Figueroa Assoc, Metro and FSC International.

Congratulations to Eagle Rock High School's Academic Decathlon Team who, at the Los Angeles Convention center Friday, February 10, earned the following awards:
Ian Turner, Top Scoring ERHS Student with 5,352 points
Conference 6 Awards:
Ian Turner, 1st place Scholastic Science
Jonas Perlas, 2nd place Scholastic Mathematics
Stephen Cotrina, 3rd place Varsity Mathematics
Kevin Gonzalez, 2nd place Varsity Essay
The team as a whole placed 3rd in Mathematics, Science, and Interview. Students who are interested in applying for membership on next year's team should see Mr. Laird in Room S-6 for details.


Lummis Day

Musical, visual, culinary and literary artists of Los Angeles will join together to stage the first annual Lummis Day, a free, public celebration of the diverse culture and rich history of the Northeast neighborhoods, on Sunday, June 4, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The event will begin with a poetry reading at the historic El Alisal museum, aka Lummis Home and will continue with a ¼ mile trek along the Arroyo Seco riverbed to Sycamore Grove Park, where a full day of food, music, art and multi-cultural performances is planned. Local and internationally prominent musicians, a variety of local restaurants, dancers and other performing artists and the work of visual artists from throughout the Southern California region will be featured.
The organizers-including a broad cross-section of community groups-hope the event will serve to celebrate the diverse culture and history of the Arroyo neighborhoods, strengthen linkages among cultural, commercial and community resources and create a framework for future civic, creative and commercial growth in Northeast Los Angeles.
Lummis Day takes its name from Charles Fletcher Lummis, the first city editor of the Los Angeles Times, one of the city's first librarians and founder of the Southwest Museum. Among his many other achievements, Lummis helped introduce the concept of multi-culturalism to Southern California.
Performers confirmed for the event include Grammy-nominated Cuban guitar virtuoso and composer, Juan-Carlos Formell and singer/songwriter Severin Browne, whose grandfather, Clyde Browne, a Lummis contemporary, founded the Abbey Press and the Abbey San Encino artists collective in Highland Park. His two grandsons, Severin Browne and singer Jackson Browne, grew up in Clyde Browne's Highland Park home.
The poetry readings will led by Lummis' granddaughter, influential poet Suzanne Lummis, recognized by the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poets and Poetry as "one of the most distinctive and influential poets in Los Angeles." Suzanne Lummis, whose most recent book, "In Danger," was acclaimed by critics, will be joined by
National Books Critics Circle Award-winner, B.H. Fairchild, whose books "The Art of the Lathe" and "Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest" have won also enjoyed widespread acclaim.
Severin Browne's newest album is called "This Twisted Road" and showcases the artist at the very top of his profession as both a singer and songwriter.
Juan-Carlos Formell's third album, "Cemeteries & Desire," was recently released by Narada Productions. He has toured with such major world music stars as Milton Nascimento, Susana Baca and Caesaria Evora and earned a Grammy nomination in the "Traditional Tropical Recording" category with his debut album, "Songs From A Little Blue House," in 2000. The artist has most recently been recording in Los Angeles with L.A.-based musicians.
The Lummis Day event will begin at 10:00 am with poetry readings on the grounds of Charles Lummis' home, El Alisal, on Avenue 43. The readings will be followed by a reception and an organized trek on the Arroyo Seco riverbed to Sycamore Grove Park, commemorating Charles Lummis' Ohio-to-Los Angeles trek. Beginning at noon, music will be staged on the Sycamore Grove Park's band shell, restaurants will offer "a taste of the Arroyo" and artwork from the many galleries of Northeast Los Angeles will be on display.
"Lummis Day" has been organized by members of the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council with the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, Los Angeles City Council Districts 1 and 14, Occidental College, the Department of Recreation and Parks, the Historical Society of Southern California, the Autry National Center, the Heritage Square Museum, NELA Bikes, the Highland Park Heritage Trust, the Mount Washington Association, the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance, the Arroyo Seco Foundation, the Northeast Democratic Club and other community organizations.


Coldwell Award Goes to Local Agent
February marked the 100th year anniversary of the Coldwell Banker Real Estate Company. And to mark this milestone Coldwell Banker held their annual International Business Conference and huge 100th year celebration in its birthplace of San Francisco, California.
The highlight of the conference was the award ceremonies where local real estate agent Danny Mininni of Coldwell Banker David Steven Company was awarded the "Coldwell Banker International Diamond Society Award".
You can be sure he made it known that Eagle Rock was the best town in America, "I am not sure but I think I invited some of them to come stay in my guest house."
Danny has had an incredible year. It was this last December when Coldwell Banker David Steven Company held its annual office awards ceremony where he was honored with Coldwell Banker David Steven Company's highest award: AGENT OF THE YEAR 2005! Other awards he received that night were Top Producer for the 2nd quarter, Top producer for the 3rd quarter, Top Producer for the 4th quarter and the award he is most proud of: ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. Rookie of the year? It is hard to believe that it has just been a year since Danny walked into Coldwell Banker David Steven Company and begged to have a meeting with David Toyoma, President. David was impressed, and although he did not have anymore desk space for a new agent, he took a chance and made room; a decision David is now glad he made.
Little did David know at the time, but Danny had hit very hard times. His home was in foreclosure with an auction date posted and he was out of money; he had no time to waste.
It was just a bit more then a year earlier that Danny had lost his Mother Irene Mininni to Leukemia, followed by the loss of his job as co-owner and managing partner of a very popular Los Feliz Diner, after a take over. With the loss of his mother, his job and income, he could not return to the restaurant business. After much soul searching he finally surrendered to the universe and realized, since he was a teenager he has gone to every open house he has passed by. "I love houses!" As resident of Eagle Rock he knew he did not want to practice his new career any where else. "I love Eagle Rock, I love the people, and more then anything I love our fabulous homes."
During the five months he attended school to get his Real Estate license, he went to every open house in Eagle Rock and the surrounding areas. He wanted to make sure that he went to work with the best company in town, so instead of being interviewed by brokers, he interviewed agents from every real estate office in town. Time and time again every time he talked to a Coldwell Banker David Steven Company agent he was impressed. My decision was made; I knew I wanted to work for David."
When asked, "Why do you think you have done so well in such a short time?" Danny Replies, "I truly believe my Mother is helping me, she is always with me. We were very close and her death made such an impact on my life. I have been so lucky to be blessed with the most incredible clients. Each and every one of them has become like a member of my family and I just love them all."


ERHS Battle of the Bands 2006
Story and Photos by Shatto Light
It used to be just a pause from a short lunch break, where students have to cut their meal time short, or bring fast foods to the auditorium, eat and watch the bands perform. But this year, the students of Eagle Rock High School got the taste of a real rock concert when the annual Battle of the Bands was given a night for the showdown at the school auditorium last Friday, February 17. It was the first time in the Battle history. Competing were six of the school coolest rock bands.
"It was suggested by student and stage technician, Phillip Hinojos, to have a night concert instead of three-day short segments during lunch, which is only thirty minutes," said English teacher and coordinator Larry Kronish. "I thought about it and gave it a try." The Battle of the Bands is Kronish's idea that started ten years ago.
The concert was a success and would likely be a yearly affair where parents get to invite relatives and friends to witness the fruit of their youngsters' after school activities. Students showed up in concert outfits to cheer and support their favorite band.
Given enough time to play their best scores, each band performed some numbers of famous rock bands and also had a chance to premier their own written songs. Dirty Blues was the first band to roll and played their composition, Sonic Dreams. It was their first year to join the battle.
"I think we got the break from the audition because we had a good solo and we sounded good too," said George Silva, guitar player of Dirty Blues, a band name they used for the battle. Silva said they want to be remembered as Van Defrens, the original name of the band.
The night was noisy but that's what a rock and roll concert should be and the musicians mingled and recognized each other's performance with high fives, fist bumping and hugs. Mixture of rock genres from classic rock to grunge, to metal rock and rockabilly greaser sound resonated from the stage.
The sounds of Aggression, Frimps, Panic, War Epidemic, and the battle winner, Bad Luck Bandits followed. Head banging, singing along, dancing and non-stop screaming of young people created a pandemonium that is acceptable to adult concert-goers who applauded for approval.
"Each year, the bands are getting better," Kronish said. "This year, the bands are more serious about their music and the competition is pretty close. Six bands from 18 competing groups made the cut from the audition that was held the weeks before. They were judged according to their ability to handle the stage, their timing or musicianship, and the audience reaction to the band's appeal and charisma.
Under the leadership of Russell Copley, head of ERHS Theater, the stage of the high school auditorium turned into a rock and roll venue with psychedelic neon lights, loud speakers and fake smoke -- to complete the silhouette effect of a long haired guitar player. Tech-genius Hinojos with stage manager, Bonnie Chacon got help from fellow students who volunteered to help. For Kronish, the collaboration of faculties, students and the band members themselves made this night a memorable one.
Members of Bad Luck Bandits, Sammyboy Ruiz, Albert Muro and David Cisneros accepted their award. They won a certificate to a recording studio in Burbank, Elephant Symphony, given by its producer, Chet Thompson. The band played their original songs.
"Albert, the stand up bass, and me composed all the songs we played tonight," said Ruiz, Bad Luck Bandit's guitarist. "One of our influences is Johnny Cash."
Proceeds of the event will support the misplaced musicians of New Orleans caused by disaster Katrina through the Higher Ground Foundation, a relief fund initiated by jazz player, recording artist and a New Orleans native, Wynton Marsalis.
Being a part of the Battle of the Bands can be just a passing moment in high school life for previous members, but the musicians this year demonstrated a lifetime possibility.
"I think, all of the musicians here tonight are just having fun," said Jose Garcia, drummer of Panic, who won second place. "We just play our music from the heart and not think of the competition that much and if we are following the criteria, that's good."


Feinstein Warns of Levee Lapses. Local Leaders, Chambers Listen

by Stan Moore
The Highland Park Chamber of Commerce, led by its incoming president, Maximillian Vasquez, and its outgoing president, James de Rin, and Dr. Stanley W. Moore, secretary, and Ed Solis, Board of Directors, heard Senator Diane Feinstein speak at a joint meeting of the East L. A. Chamber of Commerce with many surrounding Chambers of Commerce on Thursday, February 23. Feinstein, the first woman mayor of San Francisco, and the first woman Senator of California, declared that the Republican Party was now the Party of spending and deficits, and the Democratic Party was now the voice for controlling governmental deficits and using prudence in spending. The budget has huge deficits as far as the government can project. The national debt was under $4.5 Trillion in 2000; it is now close to $8.7 Trillion, and growing.
Feinstein is supporting any and all efforts to control the greatest drug problem facing California: meth. A huge percentage of prisoners in L.A. County jails are there for abusing meth. It is destroying families and children. She is also very concerned about the 43 tunnels that have been found going from Mexico to the U.S. and has submitted legislation making it a federal crime to build a tunnel between the two nations.
Our Congressman Javier Becerra and Congresswoman Roybal-Allard were introduced just prior to Feinstein. She remembered back to when she was Mayor of San Francisco and had been told that Candlestick Park's rim would collapse in a major earthquake; the City did not have the money. But she knew that the issue had to be addressed and the budget was reprioritized and the Park fixed. Then on October 5 of 1990, at 5 p.m., during the first game of the World Series between the Giants and the Oakland A's the earthquake struck. Freeways and bridges collapsed but Candlestick Park's rim survived and so did those attending the game.
California is now being warned that the levees around Sacramento and the San Joaquin Delta are in danger of collapsing in an earthquake. California must immediately repair its ancient, worn out levees. A second New Orleans must be avoided. Feinstein pointed out that Becerra, who is on the all important Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, and Roybal-Allard, who is on the important Appropriations Committee, are strategically placed and may be able to help move the Republican administration to act to prevent disaster in our state, rather than afterwards confronting a situation where Sacramento could easily be under as much as 20 feet of water with 300,000 people dead. We must act before, not after disaster strikes. We must learn from Katrina and New Orleans.
Also at the luncheon at Luminaries Restaurant and introduced to the 700 guests were City Councilmen Ed Reyes (CD 1) and the newly elected Jose Huizar (CD 14). Huizar, according to Feinstein, is still in his honeymoon stage (usually the first 100 days). Also introduced were the presidents of four local Chambers of Commerce, and three local high school students who are graduating with GPAs of between 4.25 to 4.6. Each student's parents were present and were given well-deserved ovations.
Later Thursday night (Feb. 23) City Councilman Jose Huizar swore in the new officers of the Highland Park Chamber at the beautiful Heritage Square Museum. Huizar was accompanied by his Eagle Rock head of staff, Frank Aguirre. City Councilman Ed Reyes was represented by Albina Feryana. The new president is Max Vasquez. Continuing as vice-president is Yolanda Noguiera of M.A.N. insurance. The new secretary is Dr. Stan Moore, and the new treasurer is Jaime Villacorta.
All of the members of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce were glad that they had attended the luncheon. The Highland Park Chamber is seeking new members who want to experience similar opportunities while making friends and contacts in our community. Feinstein declared that Los Angeles is perhaps the key City on the Pacific Rim and that we are going to experience growing economic opportunities in the near future.

Cruisin' with Mary
by Mary Amrhein
It is with a heavy heart I start this month's column. Last year I briefly wrote about one of our club members, Mary Dawson, and her ongoing battle with cancer. Sadly, Mary left us on Feb. 18, 2006. Everyone in the Eagle Rockin' Rodders car club really liked Mary and her husband, Jack. She was an honest, sweet, outspoken woman who loved animals and hot rods, and she will be missed. The Club's heartfelt condolences go out to Jack, and to their grown kids. We love you both.
The Rockin' Rodders are still holding our cruise in at Auto Zone, and the (slightly) warmer weather brought a bigger turnout for the February cruise in. Auto Zone's parking lot was filled to capacity with hot rods and customers for most of 5 hours. At one point I counted 25 hot rods parked with a steady stream of cruisers coming thru. We turned cars away at one point due to lack of space.
Our club will be participating in the Glendale Jewel City Kiwanis Car Show, scheduled for Sun. Mar 19 at Verdugo Park (across from Glendale College.) This is always a fun, relaxed show on the grass, with plenty of shade. Last year two of our members took home trophies, and we hope to win at least that many again this year! Look for the honorable mentions and photos next month.
I read something recently that got my imagination going. We all know Los Angeles is the heart of hot rodding and car customizing. We can, and do, customize just about anything and everything with wheels on it. Not only do cars and motorcycles get "the treatment" in L.A., so do bicycles, skateboards, wagons, and even lawnmowers.
Now some creative souls in Corona have taken customizing one step further, and are customizing wheel chairs. The company is called Colours (check out They make one-of-a kind wheelchairs, with chrome rims and SPINNERS! Yes, spinners, those things on wheels that keep twirling even when the chair is stopped. I remember the first time I saw those on a truck, I thought my eyes were playing tricks. Anyway, they make wheelchair spinners in the shape of dollar signs, four leaf clovers, and just about anything else you can imagine. They also make fat wheels that can travel on sand, and chairs that are designed for wheel chair sports. I just think this is so cool. How about a wheelchair with a flamed paint job and some chrome flame spinners? Pimp my ride, indeed! Until next month, keep on cruising.

at Highland Park Synagogue
The Holiday of PURIM will be celebrated over the weekend of March 10, 11 and 12, 2006 at Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock. Everyone is invited to join in the SHABBATON welcoming guest Rabbi Lewis E. Bogage for a series of worship services and study sessions over the weekend.
The Holiday of PURIM and its history and eternal themes will be explored. The holiday of PURIM in the Jewish tradition is the harbinger of spring, as are Mardi Gras and Carnival in the Christian tradition. Purim celebrates the events related in the biblical Book of Esther and ritualizes the behavioral modification changes necessary to assure peace and freedom for all people on earth.
The story of PURIM surrounds the heroics of a simple Jewish woman who becomes queen of an empire and with her humble uncle changes the destiny of the Jewish people as they face their nemesis personified in the evil character, Haman. On Friday evening, during traditional Sabbath worship services beginning at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, March 10, Rabbi Bogage, born and raised in New England and ordained at Hebrew Union College, will explore the historical meaning of the Purim holiday and its contemporary influences and resonances.
At the Sabbath morning service, beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 11, the Rabbi will expound on and enlarge the Torah portion for Shabbat Zakhor, which is the Sabbath preceding PURIM. The Torah portion (Exodus 27:20–30:10) deals with the theme:
For a Shabbat shiur (adult teaching session) beginning at 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon of Saturday, March 11, Rabbi Bogage will explore the PURIM holiday and its spirit, utilizing commentaries in the Kabbalah to explore the power to change our minds and our views as we look at each other.
The PURIM celebration will continue after Shabbat Havdallah at 5:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 11 with a traditional PURIM-SHPIEL (Purim play) at 6:00 p.m. in which the entire community is invited to participate with families and children in traditional Purim costumes.
Rabbi Lewis Bogage is a retired rabbi who lectures and visits small congregations and has visited Jewish communities all over the world. Rabbi Bogage served our temple during the past High Holidays, and we are proud to welcome him back.
An $18.00 Chai donation, payable in advance, will cover arrangements and food expenses throughout the Shabbaton period. Reservations are requested by calling (323) 255-5416 or e-mailing Additional information is available at
Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock is located at 5711 Monte Vista Street, two blocks west of Figueroa Avenue between Avenue 57 and Avenue 58, in the Highland Park community of Los Angeles. It is convenient to the Metro Gold Line Highland Park stop, and to MTA bus lines 81, 83, 176. 256, and 381. Additional information is available at the temple's Web site,





L.A. Fire Inspectors, Local Group at Odds
In May of 2005, the staff at WTI, Inc. received their annual notice of the L.A. City fire inspection. There was the usual "notice to comply," with the phone numbers to call when the "fire abatement" work was done.
WTI, Inc., a 40-year-old non-profit group based in Highland Park, teaches a broad variety of "survival"-oriented classes, workshops, and seminars. "Thousands of people have attended our classes since its inception in the late1960s." said staff member Prudence Boczarski-Daniel.
Among other things, they teach how to collect and use rainwater, how to identify and use common wild plants for food and medicine, how to do practical recycling, how to lower one's energy bills, etc. They have sponsored spiritual survival classes, and financial planning for low-income. They also practice what they preach, and their one-acre facility in Highland Park is a living example of proper xeriscaping, mulching, and home-food production.
Because they do not believe in throwing valuable resources into our local landfills, tree prunings and other organic matter are used as a mulch, or fill to absorb water. And because they teach students how to identify and use common "weeds" for food and medicine, they do not go through the property and hack everything down to the ground.
Additionally, the one acre is now a federally-registered wildlife sanctuary (many types of birds/ and other wildlife nest there), and is licensed under the Department of Agriculture so the wild plants grown there can be sold at local farmers markets.
So this year when the fire inspectors came, they told the staff at WTI that everything was a fire hazard and it all had to be cut down and removed. As usual, the staff worked to meet the fire department's demands, clearing dead trees, and dry grasses, and building up the berms with dead branches and wood chips.
But, chief fire inspector Michael Woods said the work was still not acceptable, and, so the WTI staff—thinking that the fire inspector was not fully grasping the significance of the work done on the property – talked to other city officials and invited other city officials to see what was done at the non-profit headquarters, and more importantly, to see why it was done that way. Additionally, none of the staff agreed with the fire inspector that the property was a fire hazard.
"How on earth could a fire spread here?" asked Dolores Miller Nyerges to the chief fire inspector. "The entire property is ringed with prickly pear cactus and lines of Chinese jade, which will stop a brush fire. We've seen cactus and jade stop a grass fire cold!"
At one point, two members of the corporation, along with the chief arborist, were told that the year's fire requirements would be met "if you remove the dead trees, and trim the elder tree." That work was then done in five days.
Still, the inspector was relentless, and insisted on more work. And so the staff did do more work that was newly demanded, working carefully to not harm the integrity of the unique site (they had to spend close to $6,000 to do the demanded work, not including volunteer work), and also simultaneously continued to solicit assistance from all community leaders and local citizens who were familiar with the WTI Inc. mission and educational programs.
Meantime, the fire inspector began to "play hardball," sending out the police to investigate on two occasions (the police were obviously puzzled as to why they were sent there), and sending out the local council office's representative, and even sending out Building and Safety inspectors. (The staff of WTI documented all these visits, with evidence that the chief inspector had sent these individuals). It was obvious to all the members and president of the organization that the fire inspector had a vendetta and was angry because they "went over his head."
On the last inspection in early December, the inspector said that all the work was still insufficient and thus he ordered contractors to come in and "clear the property." Amazed, the members once again solicited community support, and apparently calmer heads prevailed. After a long discussion with the chief inspector's supervisor, WTI supervisor Dolores Miller Nyerges was told that yes, a lot of work had been done, and that no, the fire department doesn't agree with some of the work (e.g., the berms), but that the contractors and the inspector would be called off.
It was not clearly apparent how the many community letters and e-mails brought about this resolution, but it did get resolved without further unnecessary damage to the engineered ecology site in Highland Park.
By the way, the berms mentioned are areas on the hilly driveway where twigs and small branches and wood chips are built up. This does four things: It makes the driveway larger and safer, and it helps the property soak up water (rather than flowing down into the street), it puts a "waste product" to good use rather than just tossing the branches into the dump, and prevents hillsides from eroding and slipping downhill.
It had been the fire inspectors assertion that such berms are fire hazards. Yet quite the contrary is the proven case, as has been shown by expert aborist Gary Knowlton of La Crescenta. Knowlton has made similar berms on steep hillsides, and the wood chips and mulch absorb rainwater and other water like a sponge. So such berms keep the water on the property and prevent erosion – an all too common problem after there has been heavy "brush clearance" on hillsides.
The WTI site also utilizes discarded cement for retaining walls, as well as heavy mulching for water retention and drought tolerance.
The WTI Inc. site house is over a hundred years old, and one of the oldest in that district of Highland Park. Members are currently seeking volunteers and craftsmen who can refurbish the main structure back to its original glory. There are also plans to put in a windmill for electricity, and a rain cistern. Additionally, regular tours are given where participants can learn about the living lessons everywhere on the site.
For more information about tours, or participating in the work projects, contact Christopher Nyerges at or Prudence Boczarski-Daniel at (323) 258-5835. For more information about the unique ecological methods practiced by WTI, or for a schedule of walks on the property, see


Coffee Man Becomes
Anti-Graffiti Guy

by Tom Topping
"If you clean up your graffiti every day for sixty days it goes down 95%. 90% of taggers are local and they simply give up," said Scott Robbins, owner of the soon to be open 'Highland Perk' coffee house located on the corner of York Blvd. and Aldama Street in Highland Park. He was
(see GRAFFITI GUY p 6)
continued from page 1
explaining about how quick removal of graffiti (within 24 hours) will eventually make taggers give up, because they know that to go back and re-tag every day increases their risk of getting caught.
"Taggers are not stupid," says Scott. "They pay attention to their work and their competition's work, they know what stays up for 24 hours and what stays up for three weeks." He has become a one man anti-graffiti campaign since starting his renovations of the old corner building, a landmark for 90 years.
He has also been either a saint or a devil, depending on who you ask, to his neighboring business people for his efforts to get them to be just a vigilant about graffiti as he is.
"He's a good guy," said Steve, an associate at Ray's auto paint store located right across the street from Mr. Robbin's property. "We watch his building, he watches ours... It helps."
Not quite so happy with him, however, are the businesses that have not complied with his urgings to keep their buildings graffiti free. Robbins promises that from now on, in the annual Highland Park Christmas Parade Program, he will buy a full page and publish a 'whitelist' and a 'blacklist' identifying those businesses who were asked to clean-up their graffiti and did, and those, "Who continually told us to go away," said Scott.
"People who go on the 'blacklist' get referred to (L.A. City) Building & Safety, and then to the County Tax Assessor, in that order," he said (The city can hire a contractor to do the cleanup and then have the cost added to the location's property taxes).
Coming from a back ground in computers, Scott Robbins was looking all over for a location to open a coffee house, when the York/Aldama property came up. "It was a crack house," he explained as he showed me around the property. "The owner had his friends living there, and was using it as a private clubhouse for his friends. He didn't want to sell it to anybody that would put something 'cheeky' in, and liked the idea of an 'upscale' coffee house."
The building itself had been housing a local bar that first opened in 1916. Some of the names it went by were Reina's Bar, Las Vegas Bar, and Chico's Bar. Although 90% of the capital needed to open the place was from private sources, Scott did mention the assistance of the VEDC, who he says, "Helped themselves- they do have market rates."
He anticipates the completion of the renovation project within four months, and says the new 'Curves' location should open in another two. "Grace Stone is opening the Curves gym, she lives in the area and is an administrator at Eagle Rock High School," ha added.
As we completed our conversation, he added this line, a welcoming promise to his coffee house, adopted from a Las Vegas commercial, "What happens at Highland Perk, stays at Highland Perk!"


Huizar Meet and Greet

The 20th Century Women's Club in Eagle Rock was filled to capacity on March 1, 2006, as 14th district City Councilman José Huizar finally appeared at a meet and greet with his constituents, at an event organized by the Women's Club and the Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce. With him were his staff members who he introduced to the audience in attendance.
Activists, community leaders, and neighborhood council members throughout the 14th district attended, with the majority coming from the Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Glassell Park communities.
The Councilman, elected just last November, introduced Tony Ricasa as his Chief of Staff; Field Director Alvin Parra; Open Space Deputy Kimberly Yu; Communications Director, Patricia Soto; Frank Aguirre as District Coordinator; and Senior Policy Advisor Ricardo Monroy.
Other staffers introduced were, Amy Yeager, Rosie Ibañez, Amy Cooper, Eric Robles and Luis Hernandez.
The Councilman fielded a few questions, one regarding the York Blvd. parking situation, another hillside development standards, and one from Eric Warren, President of the Eagle Rock Historical Society, who asked about the status of the park by the Eagle Rock, known as Alatorre Eagle Rock View Park. It was at least as much a comment as a question, as he described the situation of the decades old practice of the City of Glendale using Eagle Rock Streets to access their landfill, with compensation. The Councilman vowed to sit down with Mr. Warren to learn about it, as it was news to him.
The meeting ended with many one on one conversations between attendees, the Councilman, and his staffers.


Eagle Vista Seniors
The Eagle Vista Seniors' calendar for the month of March begins with the 9:30 Board meeting, followed by the Members meeting at 10:00 am. After the usual Pledge of Allegiance, and patriotic song, the program begins:
March 7 (Tuesday) Elena Morales from Glendale Memorial Hospital will discuss the senior exercises available at this facility.
March 9 (Thursday) The day trip to Santa Barbara will begin when the bus leaves Eagle Vista at 7:30 am. (returning at approximately 5:00 pm., same day.) Included in the day will be the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens with a docent tour. lunch will be at the culinary arts school of Santa Barbara. Time will be available for visiting small shops on State Street, time and weather permitting. The cost is $44 which includes lunch.
March 14 (Tuesday) Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day and the festive luncheon will be catered by East Side Market. Cost: $10.00. Birthday cake will be served, and the World Famous Magician Johnny "Ace" Palmer will entertain.
March 21 (Tuesday) The speaker will be Jim Tridoff who will describe the exciting Albuquerque Balloon Festival which we will enjoy in October on the planned 8-day tour, departing October 9, 2006.
March 28 (Tuesday) B I N G O ! Caller- Lou Agrati.
NOTE: The Eagle Vista Seniors meet every Tuesday morning at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center, 1100 Eagle Vista Drive, L.A. 90041. All seniors are welcome.

Champagne Brunch, Garden Tour
The Collaborative Eagle Rock
Beautiful, a non-profit organization focused on the beautification of Eagle Rock, has announced it will host its 2nd annual 'Trees for Eagle Rock' benefit.
The benefit will feature a champagne brunch, guided garden tour, and plant sale. Patrons have the option of participating in any or all of the day's events. Tickets may be purchased prior to the event or at the door; Champagne Brunch - $10.00; Guided Garden Tour - $20.00; Plant Sale – free entry.
The event will take place on Sunday, March 26, 10am to 4pm at the Eagles Banquet Hall located at 1596 West Yosemite Drive, Eagle Rock, CA 90041. All proceeds will be used to purchase trees for Eagle Rock.
To purchase tickets or for further information, please contact Ursula Brown at 323. 255.9400.

Cypress Park Community Safety Forum
The Friends of Cypress Park Community Improvement Association in cooperation with Aragon Avenue Elementary School, will host a Community Safety Forum involving several City of Los Angeles safety and public improvement-related departments, on Saturday, March 18 from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m., in the school's auditorium. The school is located at 1118 Aragon Avenue, Cypress Park, near Loosmore Street.
Representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department's Northeast Division, the L.A. Fire Department, and the city's Department of Public Works and "Clean Sweep" program are among those expected to attend. They will provide updates and answer questions from community members on safety as well and public convenience and improvement projects ongoing in the Cypress Park area. The offices of District 1 City Councilmember Ed P. Reyes have also provided assistance with the development of this forum.
The Cypress Park Community Safety Forum is open to all. Light refreshments will be served.
Now in its fifth years of operation, the Friends of Cypress Park Community Improvement Association is a group of active volunteers concerned with the safety and quality of life for local residents. The Friends welcome new volunteers to attend their monthly meetings held at 6:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month in the Los Feliz Room of the Los Angeles River Center in Cypress Park (570 W. Avenue 26, Los Angeles). The next meeting will be on March 6.
Total K Clean-up- March 11
by Stan Moore
Isn't the entry to the Arroyo Seco Library on Figueroa ugly? Isn't the concrete wall along side the Senior Citizen Center, as its curves around to meet York Blvd., rather bare and unattractive? Couldn't the Veterans Memorial use a good cleaning? These are the projects that the Greater Highland Park Kiwanis Club has selected for Saturday, March 11, "Total K (Kiwanis) Day." The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council (HHPNC) has allocated up to $790 for a sprinkler system for the Senior Citizen wall, plants, flagstones and concrete for the Center and the Library. And, both CD 1 and CD 14 are supporting this work day, as has the Mayor's Office. The Kiwanis call upon all Highland Park organizations to participate and help beautify these three parts of our community.
Kiwanis International's mottos are "We Build" and "Serving the Children of the World." In the last two years, with less than 20 members, the HP Kiwanis Club has started two Builders Clubs at Luther Burbank Intermediate School and St. Ignatius School. Members of both Clubs will be participating on March 11 in Total K Day. Come and participate and meet some exceptional young people. It is hoped that many parents will join their children and that some seniors from the Center will participate as well.
Dr. Stanley Moore, Kiwanis advisor to St. Ignatius' Builders Club and a member of the HHPNC, will lead the work party at the Arroyo Seco Library. The plan is to put in a flagstone/concrete walk way that curves from the front door to the street and replant the trampled area, now devoid of plants, with drought resistant plants.
Heinrich Keifer, president of the HHPNC and the Kiwanis, will lead the group working on "the wall" at the Senior Citizen Center. A sprinkler system will be installed and the entire stretch from York to the entrance to the parking area on Figueroa will be eventually planted. The HHPNC has allocated $3000 for concrete benches at our parks in HP and two or three of them will eventually be placed under the shade trees along side of the wall to provide places for walkers to seat down and take a momentary break.. Hopefully in the future a large sign will be placed along the wall on York welcoming people to Highland Park.
If enough workers come from Highland Park's many community groups, e.g., HP Heritage Trust, Chamber of Commerce, the HHPNC, etc., then Veterans Memorial will be washed and trimmed and some plants added to it. At the moment there is not a leader for working on the Memorial. Are you that leader? Do you want to join an active community organization that is attempting to serve the community and its children? If so, why not join the Greater Highland Park Kiwanis Club? For information call Dr. Stan Moore at (323) 256-1024.

Smog Man Here to Help
by Tom Topping
Keeping your car on the road is getting more and more complicated these days. Although automobiles are more dependable than ever, the various routines of keeping up the maintenance, registration and insurance can take a lot of effort and sometimes cause frustration. One of the most frustrating areas of car ownership is the smog test.
California's smog inspection program started back in the 1970's when there started to be a problem with factory installed smog devices being routinely removed by vehicle owners and their mechanics. In order to keep the ever improving emissions controls operating properly, California's smog test program would test these vehicles every other year, to make sure that the vehicle's smog equipment was in working order and that the exhaust coming out the tailpipe was at an acceptable level.
The testing itself was originally carried out by independent shops who joined the state run program. It was changed to a state run test facility for a few years, then later returned to the private sector again, where it is now.
The process has not varied much, although the techniques have. You still get a notice on your vehicle registration, "Smog Test Required," which tells you your car cannot be registered until it has passed the smog inspection. From there, it sounds simple enough, you take your car to an official "smog check" station (or "test-only" in many cases), the car is hooked up to many probes and sensors, run on a dyno (rollers in the floor to simulate road conditions) and you pass the test, send in your registration and your back on the road. That is, unless your car fails.
"Oh my gosh- I'm a failure! I didn't pass! I'm bad! I'm wrong!" Luckily it's not quite that dramatic, but it can be frustrating at least, and infuriating at worst, when your car fails. And, in a little "big brother" twist, a DMV computer in Sacramento knows your failed status even before you do, as all smog test machines are online, in constant communication with the mother ship up north.
So now what?
If you want to register your car, it's got to be fixed. It could have scores of different things wrong with it from electrical problems to engine problems, bad sensors or worn out exhaust systems, to just going without a tune-up for too long. Most of the time it can be diagnosed and fixed for one to three hundred dollars. It can also cost thousands if major repairs are required.
What if I can't afford it?
Luckily, the state does have a couple of programs to assist those that can't afford the repairs necessary to pass their smog test. The available programs are the CAP program (consumer assistance program), and the Vehicle Retirement program pays you to give up your car, to help you buy a newer, cleaner running one.
Ace Smog Center, a local Eagle Rock test facility, deals with these issues every day and owner Varooj Bandarian, explained about how the CAP program works.
"When it fails, you have to take it to a licensed smog mechanic, pay for the diagnosis, and when the mechanic finds out what the problem is you can fill out the application, turn in the papers and stuff, and the state will pay up to $500 to repair your car." Most of the time that will cover it, and you'll be back on the road. To qualify for repair assistance, you must be below a certain income, or your registration required you to get your car tested at a "Test Only" station.
He told about the vehicle retirement program as well. "People that want to turn in their vehicle, it won't pass the smog test, they don't want to keep it anymore, the state is buying them back for $1000."
"It has to be a car that is within the smog program... It has to be 1975 (year model) through present." There are a few requirements to take advantage of the retirement program, the car must be intact, currently registered, and able to start and drive without outside assistance. (Also any outstanding parking tickets must be paid as well.)
Varooj gave just a little advice to make the process of getting your smog check a little easier. He says, "When you get your registration renewal, my suggestion is you send your money right away. That way even if you have trouble passing the smog test, you won't be charged a late payment fee." This is because there is no smog certificate for the vehicle owner to send in. "We issue the certificate on-line here and it goes straight to DMV- there's no paper certificate anymore."
He added, "I recommend Test Only centers, because we have no incentive to make money on repairs, all we do is test."


Did We Take Your Picture at the Parade?
Many spectators at the December 4 Holiday Parade in Highland Park were "framed"! They had their pictures taken in colorful empty frames as part of a photo project realized by members of the Arroyo Arts Collective. If you or your family were among those photographed, a free copy of that snapshot is available now at The Acorn Gallery in Highland Park. The gallery is located at 135 N. Avenue 50, one block north of Figueroa next to the Gold Line tracks. The gallery is open Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4pm, and the second Saturday of every month from 5-10pm. All the photos taken that day are on public view in the OrangesSardines Window Gallery, 5400 Monte Vista St., corner of Avenue 54.