Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear Readers:
I look for stories that have a beginning, middle and an end and a plot. Shersten has been capable of this for as long as she’s been in the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Workshop at the Corner Store. For such a young age, she is a true story teller. Diana
By Shersten Rosenfeld, 10
  My horse’s name is Chocolate. Chocolate is only two-months-old. He is out in the fields eating grass with his mother, Vanilla. He wants to run and run and run out of the fields into the country. He wants to find a human to take care of him and to meet new friends.
So Chocolate said: “Mother, I will run and run until I am out in the country. You may come with me.”
“Chocolate, don’t run out into the country. Nobody will want you. They will not want you because you still need a mother,” Vanilla said.
“But I want to run out in the country where I can make friends and eat beautiful green, juicy grass,” Chocolate said in a disappointed voice.
“I’m sorry, Chocolate, but you cannot leave me until you are 1-year-old,” Chocolate’s mother said.
That night, Chocolate couldn’t go to sleep. He thought of going out into the country so he could see the wonderful things there. So he got out of his mother’s grip and whispered: “I’ll be home for supper.”
Then he cantered through the fields. He went through the dark, horrifying woods. Before he knew it, he was in the country. It was dark and creepy this night, but Chocolate kept cantering. Finally, he reached a small village. They called that Village “The Little Village.” Chocolate stopped in his tracks. Then he went by a house and laid down. Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep.
The next morning, Chocolate woke up. Villagers were around him. One yelled: “Kill the horse. We’ll feed him to the dogs!”
One said: “Let’s take him to the woods and let him die!”
But one, little rosy-cheeked girl said: “Let’s take it to the fields.” Everyone nodded in agreement. So they took Chocolate to the fields. The rosy-cheeked little girl said:  “Have fun in the fields.”
So Chocolate found his mother and cantered with her.
“I will never, ever leave the fields again,”  Chocolate said.
“Chocolate, I told you not to do that, but you took a risk and disobeyed me. Your consequence is that you almost got killed,” said his mother calmly. So Chocolate never left the fields again.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Veronica Gray has attended several sessions of the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Workshop and has improved her story telling dramatically.

Dear Readers: I ran out of time to put all these Ho-Ho-Ho stories up. So this is the last one for the year – at least until next year. I truly believe every child can write – and many of the students that come to the Seven Golden Secrets of Writing classes every Wednesday at the Corner Store – prove it. Here, a 12-year-old writes about a Christmas party.
Enjoy and Merry 2011!
The Christmas Party
By Veronica Gray, 12
 The girl woke up from the party.
 “Presents!” she said to herself. She got out of her bed and ran down the stairs. The table was littered with empty champagne and wine bottles. The smell of alcohol lingered in the room. Her cousin, Daniel, was asleep on the couch.  She crept to the Christmas tree and saw – pause -- no presents.
“Oh, my Gosh, I hope they didn’t forget to send my letter to Santa,” she thought. She sat by the Christmas tree feeling sorry for herself. She walked to the kitchen and served herself fresh egg nog. She sat by the fire next to the tree. “Christmas is ruined all because of that dumb party,” she decided. Her parents must have been too distracted to let Santa know what was on her list.
She searched the Christmas tree again and then she saw a piece of paper.
“Look under Daniel,” the piece of paper said, as she read it out loud. That’s puzzling.
She jumped when Daniel shifted positions and started to snore. She crawled over to him and slowly looked around. She found a gold paper and started to rip it off the couch. When she succeeded, it said: “Do not remove tag from couch.”
She got scared and stuffed it back into the couch. She saw another piece of paper, this time in Daniel’s pocket. She cautiously removed it and read: “In the place, shoes sleep….”
She ran upstairs and looked under her bed.
“Nope,” she sighed. She sat on her bed thinking.
Gasp! “The mud room,” she yelped. She quietly ran to the mud room and looked everywhere. No paper.
 “Gosh, where can it be,” she wondered.
 “The shoe closet!” She knew that a clue was in there. She looked inside the closet – and there stood a tall present. “OMG!” she spied a paper.
 Written on the paper were these words: “A place where spiders live…” she read.
“The attic!” She ran up the stairs and saw Santa’s Chair with Santa and huge pile of presents wrapped in different colors.
Her mom and dad were standing there next to the presents with a video camera.
“Merry Christmas,” her dad said.
And it truly was.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Kealan comes filled with enthusiasm to each writing class and gets better each time she picks up and creates with a pen.

Dear Readers: The countdown is here. I hope you’ve done all your X-mas shopping and that you’ve let Santa know exactly what should be on his list. One of the students wrote this in the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing class. I’m still wondering why I never knew about the Christmas Fairy. Merry Christmas  -- Diana
The Little Girl and The Christmas Fairy
By Kealan, 9
Once there was a little girl. Her name was McKenna. She loved Christmas because she believed in Jesus. It was Christmas Eve and McKenna stayed up late. Then all of a sudden, she saw an eerie, glowing light.
That’s when she saw the Christmas Fairy!
She asked: “What are you doing here?”
“I’m a Christmas Fairy,” the fairy replied in a sweet voice. “I’m here to give you all your Christmas wishes and gifts.”
“OOOh!” McKenna said with surprise.
“Go back to sleep or else you won’t get anything, but coal,” the Christmas Fairy told her.
So McKenna went to bed.
When she woke up, she saw presents filled her stocking sitting under the Christmas tree.
Don’t ask me about the stunning Christmas tree, because that’s another story. Fine, O.K. I will tell you that story, because I know you want to know it anyway. I’m the narrator and it’s my job to tell the whole story.
When McKenna, her mother, and her sister, Kealan, went to pick up a tree, they found the perfect fir. So they bought it and went home. They decorated it with sparkling and shiny ornaments. Suddenly – although no one noticed -- the same exact fairy showed up as the tree topper. When everyone was asleep – I mean fast asleep – the fairy got down from the tree and gathered up a ton of candy and fruit.
When she did that, a light twinkled in her eye and a bunch of presents appeared under the tree and all the stockings were filled. Before everyone woke up – and after her quick visit to McKenna --  she flew up to the top of tree again .
As always on Christmas morning, McKenna woke up last.
When she finally stumbled into the living room and looked at the Christmas tree she pointed up to the fairy and gasped:
 “She is real!”
Her parents just laughed. Only Kealan truly believed her.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ava first came to the Seven Golden Secrets workshops only writing a single paragraph. Now she can tell a whole story.
Dear Readers: When I first read this, I had no idea it was going to be a holiday story. So I just told you the big secret. But it’s a fishy-good read anyway. Diana
Penelope the Fish
By Ava Pfannerer, 9
Penelope was beautiful. She had turquoise scales and was a fast swimmer. As a matter of fact, Penelope was the fastest swimmer at Deep Ocean High School.
So far, I bet you think Penelope is perfect. Well, she is not. Remember how I told you she was a beautiful turquoise color? Well, that’s the color of the ocean so hardly anybody could see her.
It is a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing is she doesn’t have to worry about being eaten by a bigger fish. The bad thing is she couldn’t have any friends, because they couldn’t see her!
She would try to flap her fins around to move the water, but everyone just freaked out and swam away because they thought the faint spot they were seeing was a ghost.
One day, Penelope was sitting on a patch of seaweed. Then she saw a big purple fish bossing around a poor, little pink fish. Penelope felt so bad for the little guy. Then she had an idea.
She swam over to the mean purple fish and she started flapping her tail around moving the water. The mean purple fish couldn’t see anything and got scared.
“What?” screamed the mean purple fish, swimming away as fast as he could.
Suddenly, Penelope heard:  “HO, HO, HO!”
“Santa?!” Penelope cried.
“Penelope, you were very nice,” said Santa, who sat on his sleigh with reinfish.  “Now I will give you your wish.”
He turned Penelope a green color, so all the other fish could see her.
“Thanks Santa,” she said.
“No problem,” barked Santa and whisked off in his sea sleigh.
From then on, Penelope was happy as a clam.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Readers: May your Christmas and New Year be full of joy. Enjoy more tales from young writers – who are learning to flourish with the spirit of  writing during Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Workshops at the Corner Store.
Happy Holidays – Diana
Creative Efrain Marquez,7, has some profound thoughts that he shares in his writing class -especially about Christmas.

By Efrain Marquez, 7,
Santa is the coolest man in the world, because he gives us toys under the Christmas tree. But he is old. Over 100 years ago, Santa was not there and Christmas was all about God’s birthday. ..I like Christmas. I love the toys. I love Star Wars. I love Legos. I love video games. I love my Mom. I love my dog. I love my brother.
Merry Christmas to God.
Katelyn Harris, 9, started out always forgetting her periods and thought ahead before most of us. She now is writing full sentences and telling a good yarn in her work.
The Opposite Elf
By Katelyn Harris, 9
Santa started yelling at me because if anybody, and I mean anybody, asked me a question, I would always give them the opposite answer instead of the right answer. I would do the opposite because, I am the Opposite Elf.
When I stepped in to make the toys safe, I did the opposite. I was supposed to make the toys safe, but I did the opposite because I am the Opposite Elf.
That year, all the kids weren’t so happy about what they got for Christmas. All the toys went bonkers. The toys chased the boys and girls until their batteries ran out, about six hours later. The kids hated their presents.
And their parents were tired because they were trying catch the toys so they wouldn’t attack their kids.
So Santa yelled at me and I cried. That was the year, he granted me a new name: the Right Elf.
From then on, all the toys were done correctly every Christmas. I am now the Right Elf for goodness sake.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Dear Readers:
My overly creative writing students, who make me happy every Wednesday with their tales, put together some story shorts about the holidays. Until Christmas, I will be running some of their stories. Enjoy ringing bells, drinking  nog and waiting for the chubby, bearded guy to come down your chimney.  Merry Christmas. Diana

Marina works hard during class and consistently churns out stories.
The Real Santa
By Marina DuVernet, 9
The real Santa doesn’t drive a sleigh, with reindeer or dress in red. I know the true  Santa. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen him! If you believe he has elves, reindeer, and all that other mumbo jumbo, you must be joking.
Gee what do they teach you in school these days?
You know what? The real Santa  drivers a motorboat that flies. He has no reindeer or elves. He has a magic wand. And he really wears green and orange.
But I better not tell you more, because you know kids these days. They gossip about this, and gossip about that! Man, all this is giving me a headache. I’m going to sleep!
Goodnight! Wait! Wait! Wait! Don’t cry. Fine. Santa is just the way he is! Red suit, sleigh everything! Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah Blah.
Merry Christmas.
Sean has garnered his own writing voice after taking several sessions and always has a bit of humor.
Santa Claws
By Sean Rosenfeld, 8
Once upon a time, there was a weird guy named Santa Claws and he worked in the North Pole. I mean really. He even worked with these little people that are called elves and they make toys for children.
I personally think that this Santa Claws isn’t real. But people have been telling me his story for years.
Christmas Day
Oh, it’s Christmas day and three hours later, I suddenly hear “a-a-a-boo—boo-boom-boom-creek” on the rooftop and “Shh, reindeer,” and then a shout: “It’s me, Santa. The one you don’t believe in.”
“You’re real?” I said looking up at rooftop.  There was Santa. I fainted. When I woke up, I saw a note. It said: “By the way, you can spell my name, Clause, not claws. Now, maybe you’ll believe that I am real.”

Thursday, December 16, 2010


By Diana L. Chapman
I guess those who support the electronic music festivals must think they’ll change my mind if they douse my blog with nasty comments claiming I’m ignorant and a failure as a journalist.
Actually pleased when some sensible comments in support of raves rolled in,  I included them here. The initial piece must have hit some sore spots as it received 226,000 thousand views on City Watch in 24 hours and generated some angry words – many of them accusing me of bias.
There’s truth to that. I agree and can point out why a column – which allows opinion -- was written rather than a news article. I’m not changing my mind that raves need reining in. I just have to look at Sasha Rodriguez’s photo – the 15-old-girl who died from a drug overdose at the Daisy Electronic Music Festival at the end of June. In my view,  losing the life of any kid is not worth it. That does not mean I will dismiss out of hand those who made good arguments.
But as a mom, and a volunteer who works with scores of youth, the general dangers that exist for teens --who are too immature to attend these events in the  first place -- can be devastating to say the least.
We are short one girl because of what – a drug? Sasha apparently overdosed and died – her rescue partly complicated by the use of ecstasy when she attended the the carnival at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. She was one among 185,000 patrons that attended.
For those of you who might not have read the story posted last week, I wrote a favorable response to Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Pat Gannon’s decision to come down hard on raves while waiting for Los Angeles County to come up with some tougher safety regulations.

He hauled out an additional two hundred officers at the next two raves in November at the Sports Arena. His decision was prompted by Sasha’s death and the Nov. 1 fall of an-18-year-old USC student.  The student, Jackson Roddy, broke nearly every bone  from the waist down after attending a two-day weekend rave, falling from the sixth floor of a dormitory Monday morning.
I supported Gannon’s decision – because public protection is his job and kids are one of his top priorities. Still do.
Of course, many who wrote anonymously claim that Sasha made her own decision. (She apparently took the drug ecstasy – which complicated her shot at her survival, according to news reports ). The angry comments were piping mad and I left them here the way they were written.
“Do your research,” implored one anonymous writer. “Find out what the stupid girl at the EDC died from. She did not overdose. It takes an extremely large amount of ecstasy to actually overdose. A lot more than what is found in one actual dosage…
“Tell the whole story, or don’t tell it at all. Stop picking and choosing what to say, to try to the scare the uninformed into thinking the close minded way you do.”
Another wrote this:
“People give a bad names to raves and its pathetic. Every person, children or not, are entitled to make their own decisions and if they don’t make the right one that’s not everyone else’s fault its theres!! It really is pathetic and everyone needs to look in different directions other then the fact that a 15 yr old girl died which by the way more then likely she made the decision to take!”
Raves are fun. With that I don’t disagree. One of my favorite kids that I work with loves them, and I don’t worry about her going for a second because her drug days are long gone, replaced with meditation, yoga and a horror at young girls wearing next-to-nothing at the festivals.
I also don’t want them  shut down completely, but controlled and regulated.In the meantime, the county Board of Supevisors will be looking at suggestions from a task force that include shutting down the festivals at 2 a.m., only allowing those 18 and older and having those of drinking age wear wrist bands so concession workers know who can legally drink alcohol.
While most of the comments were nasty, many sensible folks – who actually included their names – said they enjoy the concerts and wanted to share their views:
--Shahar Aframian, a 20-year-old who lives in North Carolina and will be returning to Los Angeles shortly wrote: “Where did anyone state that ecstasy usage was part of the package? Yes, you may be correct in the sense that the drug is a strong part of the scene, but no artist, promoter or any record label in this scene embraces it as something acceptable. The use of drugs is present in EVERY music event, regardless of genre.”
--Wrote Joe Martinez, 29, of Hayward: “I have been going to raves for nearly 12 years and to dance, and have a few drinks. I have seen young kids on drugs, it is a travesty! But that is not what most of us are about. If you look harder into our scene, we are not the ones pushing the drugs. We are the ones promoting love and unity through music. In the past few months, my group has had a warm coat or a blanket drive for the homeless…That is who we are. That is what most of us “Ravers” are!”
--Wrote David Taylor, 22, who lives in San Dimas and is a producer for House and Electro House Music, said the additional officers was an attack on civil liberties.
“That doesn’t mean you take away the rights of the American people,” Taylor emailed. “Is smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol bad for you? Yes! There is a direct death toll over a million people a year  in the United States alone. And that doesn’t even include all the murder, crime, drunk driving accidents that are associated with alcohol…Does this mean it’s the Government’s responsibility to protect us? Absolutely not. This is a free country and we have the right to the pursuit of happiness. And I’m not saying that drugs deals aren’t going on. I don’t think it’s a good thing. But it is not the government’s job to just shut down an event that draws 180k people when some of them are doing drugs.”
As always, the pendulum swings from one side to another. Hopefully, with new guidelines, we will land somewhere in the middle – in a much safer place for our youth.

To see additional comments, go to my earlier post about raves.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

By Diana L. Chapman
Despite one school member’s wariness that a calendar change had limited parent input, the Los Angeles Unified School Board forged ahead and adopted a policy Tuesday to begin school Aug. 15 district wide  – a decision that will impact thousands of students and their families.
The board voted 6-1 to begin school in one of the hottest months of the year -- mid-August in summer of 2011 while not all campuses have air conditioning. The only schools not included are those that remain on a multi-track calendar.
School Board Member Richard Vladovic, who heads the Harbor area and parts of northern Los Angeles, heatedly dissented.
In the lone no vote, Vladovic urged  other board members to wait until more data had been collected and parents received more information and time to respond to the change.
 “There was clearly not enough information given to parents about this calendar change,” said Vladovic, who is up for re-election in June. “Parents and families need to be part of the process. Though I think that educationally the early start calendar change makes sense, I supported the parents who have expressed to me that they have not been given enough information.”
The new calendar does not garner students any additional educational time. While Los Angeles Unified will start earlier in the year, students will be released at the beginning of June rather than toward the end of that month – as was done in the past.
Besides seeking further information from parents, Vladovic argued that the district should wait for such a change until all its schools were off multi-track, a system that school officials determined later to be a failure for its students, but was forced into due to intense overcrowding. With bond measures, the district has been able to build new schools and slowly return most schools to the traditional schedules, starting in September and ending in June.
Vladoic’s amendment – which asked for the board to allow school complexes by community to decide their fate -- died on the table.
LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said the district would incur higher costs by implementing the early start by complex, citing additonal transportation and special education expenses.
David Kooper, Vladovic’s chief of staff, said it was ironic how the board voted after spending several hours earlier in the day debating how they could get parents involved and engaged.
And yet, families were only notified about this as a proposal in October on
 a Los Angeles Unified website. 
“It’s not fair to families,” said Kooper, who added that he received emails from upset parents. “It is incredibly unfortunate for those families who already planned vacations. Now these families have to make the decision whether or not to cancel their trip and perhaps incur a cost in doing so or go on the trip and miss school. If this was done next year, this issue would not be a problem.
“This is a clear example of doing one thing and saying another.”
Should families decide to go on vacation, the district will lose funds from ADA, or average daily attendance. States fund schools about $30 per day per student
One mother agreed with Kooper’s assessment.
“Here goes LAUSD again making a desperate stab in the dark to make changes with little data to support it,” said mother Jennifer Marquez, who has two children in a San Pedro elementary school. “I think families were defeated again and students are being treated like nothing more than test scores. I know many families that are upset over this and wonder if LAUSD knows that they may end up losing more students over this decision.”
Seventeen high schools – driven by their principals – urged Cortines to allow them to begin school early this past fall so that its students could end their first semester before the winter break.
Many administrators believe adding three weeks to the beginning of the year – and loping off June, which one principal called a “dead” month, would raise student test scores. Most of the year is dedicated to working toward the test, which are taken in May. After that, both teachers and students are exhausted, school officials said.
Linda Del Cueto, the superintendent who heads 14 of the high schools that started early this year, said while she’s heard few complaints, she has not been able yet to delve into the data of how successful the early start has been.
At the end of the semester, Del Cueto said they will be able to look at students grades, but test scores will be unavailable until the summer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rancho San Pedro:
Because many of the residents depart over the holidays leaving seniors behind, the residents association at the Rancho San Pedro housing development is seeking donations for a Friday afternoon pot luck .
A party is scheduled for this Friday and more food is needed, said Veronica Mendoza, the housing association’s president who lives there with her family and is coordinating the effort.
Seniors also need Christmas gifts such as electric heaters, Mendoza said.
To aid in anyway, contact Mendoza at Drop-off of goods can be delivered through her.
San Pedro High:
San Pedro High staff will contemplate a schedule change in a series of meetings in January and parents and students are invited to attend to voice their opinions.
Having implemented a block schedule as part of its package to reinvigorate the education at the campus, the staff wants to review other types of schedules to see what works best for students and teachers.
Advisory meetings will be held three times in January on Mondays Jan. 10, 24 and 31st  at 3:15 p.m.  in the teacher’s lounge. Recommendations will then be made to school based management team.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

LAPD Deputy Chief Pat Gannon goes after raves so he can protect youth.

By Diana L. Chapman

If he didn’t care about your kids, he wouldn’t have done it.

That’s all I can conclude about Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Pat Gannon’s recent decision in November to call out the big guns when it came to two rave concerts at the Sports Arena.

While it was controversial to some, I consider his action to haul out an additional 200 plus officers and station them around the event’s parking lot along with drug sniffing dogs nothing less than commendable – especially while we are all waiting for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to provide stiffer safety regulations to help curb disturbances at the events where the mind-altering drug, ecstasy, is commonly used.

But Gannon wasn’t waiting. He didn’t have time too. 

As far as he was concerned there was no choice if he wanted to protect youths from further harm. One 15-year-old girl died in June after an overdose complicated by the drug ecstasy taken at a rave and an 18-year-old USC student plunged six floors from a dormitory after partying for two days at another festival on Nov. 1. He had also used ecstasy, Gannon said.

What more do we need to know? Raves – or electronic music festivals as their promoters call them – have been out of control for years and always carried the underlying theme that ecstasy usage was just part of the package. Few understand more about the harmful damages of ecstasy abuse than a deputy chief who has spent hours talking with those impacted by the substance. 

“I know they’re wrong,” Gannon said of raves. “It’s been a huge problem for us. We’ve had overloaded trauma rooms. Am I really overly concerned? I think we are sanctioning things at these type of events. I have listened to other parents and spoken to kids who have overdose on ecstasy and they have serious brain injuries. 

“To me, there’s just not enough you can do to protect kids.”

Gannon, who heads the southern region of the LAPD, has both the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Sports Arena under his jurisdiction – where many of the Los Angeles festivals are hosted.

He also readily understood that we – the adults -- missed the boat completely to protect 15-year-old Sasha Rodriquez, a drill team member, who died of an overdose complicated with ecstasy. She had attended 14th annual Electric Daisy Carnival in June – along with 185,000 others at the Coliseum, prompting an outcry – especially from the overwhelmed medical community -- that these festivals need reining in. 

Before Sasha’s death, the festivals allowed ages 16 and up, but obviously if one underage teen slips in, there was likely to be countless others. (After the death, the coliseum boosted the age to 18 with an I.D.). 

Besides Sasha’s death, about 100 others at the same event – many overdosing ecstasy party goers-- swamped hospital emergency rooms and sixty drug arrests were made, according to news reports.

To further fuel Gannon’s concerns was a lesser known incident. At 6 a.m. Nov. 1 – a Monday morning-- an 18-year-old college student who attended a two-day rave fest that weekend, plunged six floors from a USC dorm – shattering nearly every bone in his body from the waist down. Jackson Roddy, a freshman from Colorado, told paramedics that he had mixed ecstasy, marijuana and alcohol, the deputy chief explained.

Of the phone call made to Roddy’s parents, Gannon said: “I can’t even imagine that.” The deputy chief has shuttled three children to college and off to adulthood. One is accountant, another a police officer and his daughter, the youngest, is a second grade teacher.

To me, as a person who only gets to read about the unnecessary injuries that have gone on at the festivals for years, they are just another Titanic in waiting. If we don’t take control now, we will have another sinking ship with a lot of drowning children.

It’s taken a lot of mayhem to get us at last to focus on what needs to be done to control these monstrous parties that attract popular hip-hop artists and rap stars. Since Sasha’s death (unfortunately we had to wait for that), the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors called for the establishment of a task force and will consider imposing tougher safety regulations. 

The task force --a mix of police, city and health officials – has turned in its recommendations which urge that the festivals end at 2.a.m and require those of drinking age, 21 and over, to wear wristbands so concession workers know who can legally drink alcohol. In addition, emergency personal are recommended to be on the site.

Gannon’s decision to go after the raves while everyone is waiting around for new safety guidelines to be adopted didn’t sit pretty with Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks, the former Los Angeles Police Chief who sits on the coliseum’s board.

Parks considered Gannon’s actions overkill and says the costs belong to the police – and not to promoters, something Gannon does not agree with. Parks also argued that Gannon seems to want to eradicate parking lot drug sales.

“…He should probably call in the Sheriff’s Department, the military, the National Guard, the military if that’s his goal,” Parks said in an article appearing on Los Angeles County board Supervisor Zen Yaroslavsky’s website. “There’s been drug deals at concerts before his birth.”

Wait a second – just because something routinely happens, doesn’t make it right.
That’s exactly what I like about Gannon. He understands that. If he could save a kid, he probably would call out the National Guard, the military and anyone else he needed. To the deputy chief, kids are the star on top of the Christmas tree and deserve the highest priorities in protection -- even young folks who’ve turned 18 – and still might not have the “maturity” to understand what they are getting into.

If the new safety guidelines are approved, the county board will send a letter to rave promoters urging them to follow the newly established precautions.

And I know someone who will keep a watchful eye on them to see if they do, trying to ensure there are no more Sasha or Jackson incidents to come.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Veronica Mendoza, along with Port of Los Angeles Charter High School students passes out pumpkin to residents. Medoza, the resident association president, said the produce was appreciated.

By Diana L. Chapman
After living in San Pedro for nearly half my life, I’ve always avoided the Rancho San Pedro affordable housing development on Harbor Avenue because of consistent warnings that drugs and gangs exist and persist there.
Perhaps they do.
But  last month I learned – thanks to Port of Los Angeles High School  teacher Rachel Brunhke – that there are many more families and individuals who are just like you and I – not involved in crime, not doing drugs, or any type of illegal activities. They are just trying to survive.
My lesson happened right before Thanksgiving, when Brunhke and her students took over produce they had grown themselves at the Los Angeles School District Science Center in San Pedro.
The residents lined up and were so grateful to get a small pumpkin, pomegranates and squash and greeted the students  with huge smiles.
Veronica Mendoza who lives there with her family –and is president of the resident’s association,  said residents within the development pull together to help those who have even less than they do.
“I have a feeling that our own low income community will begin to be viewed for something other than the fearful gang infested projects,” Mendoza said. “You would be surprised what you can learn if you hang out with the disabled woman in the wheel chair that needs food. Our entire community takes turns assisting her and her mentally disabled, sweet daughter.
“Or you could see when the community pull together to raise rent funding for our neighbor who just lost his job and couldn’t make the rent payment and was about to be evicted.”
Residents in the community can use the following items: jackets and toys for children,  floor heaters for seniors, trays of food for seniors with turkeys and tamales being at the top of the most requested food items, Mendoza said. Residents are most concerned about the seniors who remain behind during the holidays while many are gone to visit families. 

The residents will put on a pot luck dinner from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 17 for seniors, but need donations.
To make any of these offerings, you can email Mendoza at: and arrange to drop them off.
“You see, it’s the little things we received that make our lives more pleasurable,” she added.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


 December 01, 2010
To LAUSD Employees:
As we come to the end of this calendar year I would like to remind our employees of how hard it has been for all of us to face our new budget realities. This week, we were required to part ways with a number of our longtime and faithful employees, and change the work status of many more.
This was not an easy task nor was it one that we embraced. These tough decisions are impacting our entire LAUSD family including students and parents. As difficult as they are, these were decisions we had to make and act upon.
I know that many of you wanted me to use our one-time Federal Education Jobs Bill funds to prevent some of the job cuts we are currently experiencing; however, in the face of clear indications of a continued bleak budget picture, the use of these funds in the current year would have been grossly irresponsible. We are attempting to bring stability during these turbulent times. If we don’t use these dollars in 2011-2012 to preserve jobs, then our challenge becomes worse, rather than better.
Given that scenario I would like to remind you of the 38,000 certificated and 28,000 classified employees who continue to make a daily contribution to ensure that we continue to provide the best education possible for our more than 607,000 students. I am grateful for the work that you do every day.
Next year will not be any easier. The reality is that 2011-2012 will be an even more difficult year. In an effort to address this situation I have already planned to use the Federal Education Jobs Bill funds, $103 million, to save more than 2,000 jobs beginning next July.
I ask that you stay close as a school community during this season and stay focused on our mission of preparing our students to be college prepared and career ready.
Ramon C. Cortines