Sunday, July 31, 2011

Image of the Lap-Band.


By Diana L. Chapman

Rotund, unhappy, and driving my parents to deep vexation due to my weight,  my mom and dad dragged me to the doctor at age 11 begging him to save me from the fat curse and to lure me into dropping the pounds.

Appetite suppressant pills and months later, the doctor grew frustrated when I hadn’t lost an inch. He grilled me: “Do you want your parents to be sad? Do you want them to keep wasting their money when you visit me? Take this seriously.”

After that, I did.

I reduced my food intake dramatically to something like 1,000 calories a day. I  cleaned house for exercise and within probably six months, dropped fifty pounds. My parents were thrilled. My doctor ecstatic. I felt great – and boys noticed me for the first time in my life.

Thrilling. But within the year, the weight plus some extra jumped back on me like a rolling blanket of fleas. Now, instead of being 50 pounds overweight, I was 60. Haunted by what I call “the fat curse” – which became the story of my life -- I yo-yoed back and forth, losing, gaining. Losing. Gaining. Trying every diet conceivable and every alleged “weight loss cure” known to man – and more likely – women, nothing worked for much more than a year. Getting it off always was the easy part of the equation; keeping it off was the trouble. Like the common cold, there still is no cure – even with all our new-found technology. In my case, misery prevailed when I refused to wear shorts, bathing suits, go to reunions, discovered I might be too fat to ride horses -- and continued living with the stress of being a size 7 one day, and a size 18 a year later.

This is exactly where I fear the Lap-band  will take -- and leave our youth.  The Lap-Band is not the answer for our teens despite children’s obesity rising radically across America, so much so that it seems it’s in the news every week.  I know we are all seeking a solution for the thousands of us --- teenagers and adults alike -- who live with this agony.

But truly, I don’t see the Lap-band, which Allergen Inc. has taken to the FDA as a possibility for teens as young as 14, as much different than those appetite suppressant pills and 1,000 calories a day, because that’s in fact what it will do to a kid.

It provides them with a way to eat less without using much brainpower – and in fact is likely to steam up that ever-ready roller-coaster slipping insidiously toward the fat curse. If the teen has the desire to ever take the band out or it comes with too many complications for their system, I’m betting that teen will break out in rolls of fat once they quit using it.

Simply put, the Lap-Band surgery inserts a silicone ring that fits around the stomach basically reducing the appetite. The good news is it can be adjusted if that fat starts creeping back to decrease the food intake. The bad news is it can slip, become infected and a myriad of other troubles.

More importantly, we have to remember that teens bodies are growing by leaps and bounds and are changing daily. This is a terrible time to give them surgery when exercise and not diet – but eating right – can get the same results.

Exercise for kids remains a huge key to the kingdom for dropping fat, so I don’t care if a kid does Zumba Fitness, swims, surfs,  bowls, leaps up and catches eggs flying in the air, plays tennis, skateboards, roller blades or makes up their own peculiar form of exercise.

 This will make major changes in their lives, combat depression which often accompanies those who are overweight, and remains a much better solution than restrictive diets, which is basically what the Lap-Band does.

The reason I believe we see thousands of people like me walking around – losing, gaining, and losing and gaining again – bloating up like big distended balloons -- stems from recent theories that fat cells multiple. I believe this, because once a person reduces food intake, there’s not much chance for many to return to eating normally again.

That signals, for many us, an automatic weight gain.

This alone makes me uncomfortable about the use of Lap-Bands  for teenagers who may jut upward a couple more feet, drop weight naturally as they take on more exercise or have possible medical conditions.  For instance, my son had excess weight despite his frazzled activities and his drive to play sports, all sports, all the time.

One thorough allergist encouraged me to have his thyroid checked since thyroid issues ran in the family. When we did, it turned out Ryan, at age 11, had no thyroid, a huge regulator of weight and growth. Once on thyroid medication, he immediately began  shedding the pounds.
Kim Kromas, San Pedro nutritionist and chiropractor, calls Lap-Band alarming for youth.
My friend, Kim Kromas, a chiropractor/nutritionist in San Pedro, calls the Lap-Band for teens alarming.

“The thought of the FDA approving lap surgery for children is frightening,” Kromas said. “Without addressing the psychological components of obesity, Lap-band surgery is just another band aid. Our children do not need band aids. They need education and guidance in food and exercise choices. This will increase their knowledge and self-confidence and teach them that the goals are worth working for.

“Teenager’s bodies are still working towards equilibrium,” she added. “Any surgery to disrupt the function of the body is adding a weakness to their body—and mind – for the future. Teach children how to eat properly. Educate them on the importance of daily exercise. This will breed self-confidence. That is the way to raise healthy children.”

Meanwhile, it is true, thousands of adults have had success with Lap-Band.

While my friend did it, loved the weight loss and feels much better about herself, she warned, there are issues. Sometimes, she gags on food and feels like vomiting. She’s suffers hair loss. Other times, she barely wants to eat so she just drinks water or juices. And of course, not everyone can stand to live with such a device in their stomachs.

But let’s be realistic with children. Caution should – and must – prevail when it comes to kids.

Before we go jumping into Lap-band for teens, we must explore the fact that the FDA approved this in 2001 for adults with severe weight problems and by 2007, we are into the third generation of “adult” Lap-Band users, according to a Lap-Band site.

But we also now know there are troubles, as there are with all surgeries, infections, slippage of the device and possibly the band shifting through the stomach’s wall – and in some extremely rare cases, death.

This is not what we want for teens. I’d much rather see what former Los Angeles School Board member Mike Lansing did for students who maybe don’t like running, or traditional (often boring) forms of exercise in schools that in reality some students just can’t do.

He installed three brand new state-of-the-art gyms at three different middle schools so students could discover other ways to fight obesity and get in shape, from pumping spin bikes, to using resistance bands and medicine balls – a form of exercise most students will never see until they become adults and join private gyms.

As far as the Lap-Band, let teenagers wait until they are adults to make that choice and have had the chance to physically change their bodies – while they are young and still have the chance to do so.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Judy Elliott, Chief Academic Officer for LAUSD, led the 10 percent cap on the value homework can bring to grades.

Do We Need To Change the Way Los Angeles Schools Shell Out Grades When It Comes to Homework Even Though the Superintendent Stalled a New Policy That Outside Work Can Only Count for Ten Percent of the Grade?

By Diana L. Chapman

At first, I was appalled when the Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced  intentions to adopt a policy that homework must only count for ten percent of a student’s grade due to inherent inequities that had coursed their way across the sprawling school system.

Say what? Once, all of us did vast amounts of homework, did we not? At least that’s how I recall it.

When I heard the news, all I could hear were these little voices in the back of my brain: But homework prepares kids for life experience, shows them that school doesn’t stop at three  o’clock and reveals how each year gets a bit harder. Homework is how a student makes the grade.

More concerning: Kids aren’t stupid. As soon as they understand homework is only ten percent of their grade, many will shrug their shoulders and conclude, if that’s the case, why do it at all?

Before I finished interviewing the folks that were all for the plan so I could come to understand it, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy pulled the plug after a storm of complaints from many teachers and parents and asked for a revision to be turned in by Jan. 1.

“After careful consideration, I have decided to postpone implementation of the district’s homework policy,” Deasy wrote. “While well-intended, I am not confident that the initial policy received sufficient comments and general input from parents, teachers and board members. We cannot and will not implement this policy of this magnitude without actively soliciting and incorporating recommendations from key constituencies.”

So for now, the plan is delayed (if it will ever happen) and Deasy asked his Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jamie Aquino to revise and craft a new policy.

Because there are reasons that the original policy was nearly approved,  I decided to talk to those who support it and what led to such a revision, starting with Judy Elliott, LAUSD’s Chief Academic Officer who led the proposed policy change.

Inequities across the board is what banded together two teams of parents and educators, many of whom were complaining that homework was misused by some teachers. For months, they studied why homework wasn’t a reflection of how students did when it came to standardized tests, Elliott explained.

The ten percent value was not meant to prevent teachers from demanding homework and did not include reports, projects or book reports. A revised policy of a ten percent cap was to make the district more uniform and to get a better view of how students were actually doing in the classroom, she said.

Amongst some of the troubles, Elliott explained:

--Some teachers weighted homework for as much as 60 percent of the grade. This led to an imbalance. Students who studied and received As in the classroom failed standardized tests. In turn, students who didn’t do their work failed the classes, and yet did extremely well on standardized test scores. Therefore, students and their families were not receiving a true measure of a child’s abilities.

--Many students due to family issues, from babysitting for their siblings, working to help the family or having no area to do their homework – were punished tremendously in the classroom when homework was an unusually high part of their marks. It didn’t matter how well they did in the classroom or on classroom tests, they were still being dramatically marked down for lacking their homework.

“It was just fuzzy all over the place,” Elliott said, who had two different teams of parents, administrators and teachers construct the new plan. “There just came an outcry of the inequity of homework across the district and it was driven by teachers. For A kid to get an F or D and then gets high marks on (standardized) tests, that’s a little alarming.

“You don’t want to hold kids hostage for their homework.”

She likened the new policy to a child practicing basketball. The child, she said, is not considered a great basketball player for the practice; it’s what he does in the game that proves his worth. It should be the same way in the classroom, she added, arguing that students should not be graded heavily  on their attitudes or homework. In addition, students will learn that prior to college that their studies will not count for anything toward their grades.

If the second largest school district in the nation agrees to the 10 percent grading cap on homework, it will be following trends of schools across the country that are not allowing instructors to use homework as a large part of a student’s grade, the Los Angeles Times reported.

That got me to thinking; perhaps I’m wrong and led me to explore why so many want the 10 percent cap.

I started interviewing teachers who surprised me with their agreement over the policy– even though I was opposed to it. One first grade teacher told me she rarely gave homework as her students were too young.

Another, Tim Howe, an elementary teacher for seven years before he took a post with Los Angeles School Board member Richard Vladovic, said he always found homework one of the most frustrating issues for him. As a teacher, he said, he would embrace such a plan.

Homework, he said, was always torturous. He tried to achieve a good balance for his students between outside and classroom work and wanted to find homework that was meaningful to his students, not busywork.

And yet, he didn’t want homework that the parents were doing for their children either. He learned quickly, he said, that once a child reaches their frustration level with homework, they shut down anyway and quit learning, “making it meaningless.”

What he found himself doing, he said, was tailoring his assignments toward the needs of the children and their families.

“Homework was never a huge part of my grade,” Howe said. “I always felt like it was practice for the child and I didn’t want it to negatively impact their grade. Over vacation, I wanted my kids to learn in other ways, go to museums, go to plays. They need a break.”

San Pedro High Math teacher Richard Wagoner said the new homework policy designed by Elliott and her teams was right on target.

For years, he said, students have passed their math classes in lower levels and were sent to his higher level math classes, such as Algebra, where he found many were stalled at a fourth grade level or lower. They have passed their lower grade math classes, he said, not through tests but via homework and when they began failing in high school, parents and students were aghast.

Wagoner does not want the policy postponed and wrote the superintendent to say so.

“This policy was frankly long overdue,” Wagoner wrote asking Deasy not to halt the plan. “Kids who cannot pass algebra in schools usually have a 3rd or 4th grade mastery of mathematics. We could have done something, but now we choose to continue the mistakes of the past.

“Please reconsider your decision to delay implementation of the homework policy. You are hurting the very children you think you are helping. And our high-level children will continue to be burdened in classes filled with the unprepared…if they chose to remain in our schools at all, that is.”

I still have those little voices in the back of my brain going: No, homework is good. This policy hurts our kids. But then I wonder am I right? We don’t want to pass kids up who have only achieved success through their homework. That is unfair to the child and their parents.

Complaining profusely to my mom about the new policy, I asked her what she thought.

“You know,” said my 82-year-old mom, “Remember that teacher you had in sixth grade, Mrs. Taylor? She refused to give her students homework. She said kids needed to play and spend time with their families. You got the best education from her.

“Now,” my mom added. “That’s my kind of teacher.”

What do I think of the policy now? I’m trying to separate myself from what seemed right for my generation and what is right for now.  Maybe, just maybe, these people are right and we need to take the time to listen.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Katie Day, 8, working on her stories at the Corner Store during a Seven Golden Secrets to Writing Workshop.
Eight-Year-Old Writes With Great Details About Her Trip to Griffith Observatory; The Alliance League Summer Sale So Awesome, Think About Xmas Gifts!

Dear Readers:

One of my new students in the Seven Golden Secrets to Writing workshop earned my excitement when she packed a mini-story about her travels to Griffith Observatory with terrific detail! She’s only eight, so I was in my glory during class that she’s already getting into good writing now. While many students like Katie Day are still learning spelling and grammar, they are deft enough to learn all about structure and content now. You go Katie! Congratulations. – Diana

Griffith Observatory:
By Katie Day

I am Katie. Today, I went to Griffith Observatory! I saw planets, astronauts and I got to weigh myself on all the planets, even Pluto. I know it’s a star now, but it was a planet.

The Griffith Observatory is a big building and has a lot of stuff about space and it is near the Hollywood Sign. I love it. This was my second time I’ve been there and I learned that I am a terrestrial.

I learned about the guy who made the telescope curved and about the asteroid that fell from the sky and landed in Arizona, making a big, huge crater! I know that Earth is about 4.6 billion years old. I made a big earthquake with my friends. Mr. Gus, my  teacher, was over 100 pounds on Saturn.

We got to see something called Tesla’s coil and that was how Frankenstein was made (in the book.)

 I like the idea of having a museum on a big hill. Do you know my mom was a docent on the trip and I had to help her? She is not that bright when it comes to the Griffith Observatory.


Looking for Some Good Deals? Then Stop Off at the Assistance League on Weymouth Corners and Check Out Their Summer Sale

Every time my mom drops in to visit from Napa, she wants to shop at the Assistance League – a non-profit store run by a group of women who raise thousands of dollars every year to provide dental care, uniforms and school supplies for impoverished children around Los Angeles County.

This time, my mom and I were lucky. When we landed at the league’s store, it just happened to be their summer sale which will continue to run until Aug. 24. Piled on tables were home goods at what seemed half the price in regular stores.

Stunning coasters, trivets, gift candles, wind chimes and flags, rugs were among some of the items available. The buys are wonderful.

So make plans to stop by the Assistance League of San Pedro-South Bay at 1441 W. Eighth Street, San Pedro. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3. For more information, call (310) 832-8355.

Friday, July 22, 2011

San Pedro High Principal Jeanette Stevens received news this week that San Pedro High School received accreditation for three more years.


By Diana L. Chapman

San Pedro High School – one of the campuses Los Angeles school officials fingered as “poor-performing” forcing it into public school choice —received a trumpeting victory this week when it was given three years more of accreditation.

That was all the 3,600 student campus could receive under the Western Association of Schools and Colleges – known best to educators as WASC – in its current reviewing cycle. To earn this merit, the school staff entirely revamped the way the school did instruction under the direction of its latest principal, Jeanette Stevens, who has now served two years.

“Although we really felt that the term would be a three year term, which is the maximum term available to us in the current WASC cycle, it was fabulous to have our speculations confirmed,” said Stevens, who led a leadership team to drastically change classroom structure and instruction.

The “ultimate goal is always to improve student achievement,” she added. “Throughout my two years at San Pedro High School, we have always taken dip-stick measurements to intermittently monitor our progress towards addressing the WASC recommendations…Our work has been incredibly positive. Students have noticed a change and we have seen growth in our test scores.”

The overhaul of the campus came after a string of principals took leadership of the school and quickly retired, leaving in its wake further deterioration of a campus already suffering from severe overcrowding, low test scores, lack of student engagement and a graduation rate hovering around 50 percent.

Los Angeles Unified School Board officials and then Superintendent Ramon Cortines placed the campus on notice two years ago, forcing it on the public school choice list – which meant outside groups could bid to run the high school.  However, no agencies applied.

Instead, the school staff mapped out a new game plan for its students, which included breaking the campus up into six houses so students could build relations with their teachers as well as extending class time into a block schedule structure.

While Stevens has not received the detailed WASC report, she was told she could call to obtain the results prior to its release. She did so on July 18, she said, and was informed of the news.

Stevens has performed well beyond expectations and so has the staff, said Jacob Haik, the chief of staff for Los Angeles School Board Member Richard Vladovic who oversees schools in the Harbor area and part of south Los Angeles. Vladovic, he said, hails the recent news as a great showing of what can be done at such a high school.

“Richard is really proud of Jeanette Stevens, the teachers and the entire staff over this accomplishment,” Haik said. "This is just the beginning of good things happening at San Pedro High. We couldn't be more happy with (Jeanette) and the staff."

San Pedro High math Teacher Richard Wagoner,  who was critical of the school officials when they placed San Pedro High on the public school choice list, said he was pleased with the recent news and how the staff pulled it all together.

“I sincerely hope that the people who were scared off by the false rumors of the past will stop by and visit to see that we are a great school, with a great faculty, great students and a wonderful principal,” Wagoner emailed. “We are a school in which the faculty and staff sends our own children. We are mostly locals who have a stake in San Pedro and will not let San Pedro High be anything but the best it can be.”

Once the school receives the report, Stevens said, she and the staff will dissect the information and strengthen the areas in which officials say they remain weak.

The staff, she said, “shined,” in helping her create a school with more student engagement.

For example, the school started to involve students with “Think, Pair, Share,” where lesson plans became more uniform and included discussion with fellow classmates “to broaden perspective and understanding.”

Professional discussion time was worked into the teachers schedules so they could discuss which strategies were working best in the classroom.

Most of all, Stevens said, turning the campuses into smaller houses – or smaller learning communities – along with block schedule achieved ground with students.

“Our emphasis on student engagement has resulted in students recognizing a difference in instructional strategies,” the principal explained. “Our teachers care about our students and when we implement new educational practices, our students recognize the intent and rise to the occasion.”


Friday, July 15, 2011

Lead Singer Wolf Bradley and his band Last Day Off Will Be Performing Saturday at the Alano Club in San Pedro.


Gearing up for a new program called “Kids Against Drugs and Violence,” the Alano Club will host a benefit dinner and concert this Saturday bringing in a youthful band, Last Day Off, to attract the younger generation.

Bob Ahl, executive director of the club, said the club is raising money for the program directly aimed at teenagers by hosting once a month Friday night dance parties to keep them off the streets and to steer them into a safe environment along with a myriad of other programs.

This Saturday’s event has a suggested donation of $35 for a gourmet dinner along with a speaking engagement and a concert with four bands later in the evening. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by guest speaker, Steve Ipsen.

Ipsen, a leading deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, assembled one of the largest attorney unions in the nation. He will discuss “reform first,” where he will unveil his concepts about how to save hundreds of millions of dollars in the system and improve public safety while reducing the massive numbers of inmates in prison.

Following Last Day Off to the stage will be one of San Pedro’s favorite rock bands, CHOYCE, with headliner Franki Doll and the Broken Toys closing the evening of musical entertainment.

Under the planned activities for youth in the future, the club plans Friday night dances for teens ages 15 to 18 which will include supervision from adults who work with the club. Security will also be provided.

Other plans include teaching teenagers how to manage money, write resumes, host peer counseling for bullying and have overnight camping trips to places such as the Joshua Tree Astronomy Center.
The club is located at 2001 South Pacific Avenue. For more information, call (310) 833-3525.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Excited about New Blood for the 15th District--Except It Might Be Old Blood

By Diana L. Chapman

I am relieved it’s over.

Those of us in the 15th District are finally saying goodbye to Janice Hahn, our Los Angeles councilwoman for 10 years, after she swept to victory in the election for U.S. Congress.

But while everybody was partying hard at her victory celebration, I felt this overwhelming sense of liberation: Yes, it’s done. We can move on at last!

A cast of candidates has already started to line up to fight over the vacant Los Angeles Council seat.

Let’s talk about the old blood first. Hahn’s immediate predecessor, former Councilman Rudy Svorinich, wasted no time saying he will run. Charging in right behind him was Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena), also a former Los Angeles School Board Member.

Then there are the folks running who are without political stature or the accompanying campaign coffers: Joe Buscaino, a Los Angeles police officer, and Pat McCosker, president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles. Both have boldly announced their intentions.

Other possibilities: Doug Epperhart, a stalwart on the Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council; David Greene, president of the San Pedro Democratic Club, and Jayme Wilson, owner of Spirit Cruises along with many others. We won’t know for sure until everyone actually files.

But my point is this: It’s time for us to decide who we really want to represent us on the City Council. Can we find someone who won’t listen only to the unions and entrenched business leaders, but will get down and dirty in the trenches with those trying to make our communities better? Can we find someone who can actually nudge aside the City’s mountain of bureaucracy – a big reason we don’t see projects materialize for 10 years or more?

Which one will fight not just for the big guy but the little guy? Not just the people with campaign money, but the folks who don’t want another convenience store in a neighborhood where there are three already? I’ve watched scores of people work diligently over the years to improve our community, but rarely did they get much support from Hahn.

My wish list for our new council member:

·        Help clean up and beautify our towns, whether it’s San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City or Watts. We don’t have to look like ragged communities left in the dustbin 30 years ago. None of us wants to be step children to downtown L. A. anymore. Come up with a plan, for God’s sake! Don’t do a little bit here and a little bit there with disconnected projects that don’t pull communities together.

·        Be on top of your staff to make sure they’re responsive and truly know what’s happening in all areas. Listen carefully to the reports that stream in. Make sure you’re in touch with your communities, whole-heartedly, not just half-heartedly.

·        Look us in the eye and tell us you’re going to keep the commitments and promises you ran on – and mean it. Take the actions you say you’re going to take instead of giving us empty promises.

The best leaders listen to all sides of an issue, bring everyone to the table and negotiate a game plan. Good leaders can do this. Poor ones can’t. As fractional as our community of San Pedro is, I still believe a strong leader can bring us together.

That’s the type of leader I’m looking for. What about you?

Monday, July 11, 2011

San Pedro Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino Gets Another Round Of Applause from the Los Angeles Police Department; He’s Named to Oversee Instructors of the Department’s Respected Youth Cadet Program

By Diana L. Chapman

A local police officer, who singlehandedly brought teenagers’ advice into the fold to help Los Angeles fight crime, was recently plucked to supervise all instructors in the department’s intensive youth cadet program.

Buscaino, 36, will begin his new duties with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Youth Cadet program by the end of July, but will remain a senior lead officer for the San Pedro area he currently serves.

Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said Buscaino was selected among thousands of officers for the post because of his keen abilities to understand that youth must be part of the LAPD’s game plan not just to fight crime – but to prevent it by including teens in its programs.

 “He thinks, he breathes, he embraces the young people of the community,” Paysinger said of Buscaino as to why he was selected. “It doesn’t matter who the kids are. That’s part of his organic nature. He’s a powerful authority. We could not help but make him the architect for this (cadet) job.”

Buscaino, Paysinger said, is an officer who clearly understands that youths have a role in the department’s future in a preventive fashion and said Buscaino spent much time advocating for teens while on the force.

This is the second recent accolade for Buscaino, who first received notice among the top brass for his extensive efforts in launching the initial Teen Community Police Advisory Board six years ago in the Harbor Area. He did so after he had several schools in his area with crime, drugs and bullying issues. He realized no one was listening to the teenagers and their suggestions to attack crime-related troubles even though they were in thick of things.

The youth, he said, had no voice.

Buscaino’s actions with teens, Paysinger said, reflects the belief that the department has spent too much time on the “negative aspects, such as bookings, and arrests,” of youngsters rather than giving them a hand up out of their environments and steering them into programs such as the Teen CPAB or the Cadet Academy.

“It’s humbling,” said Buscaino about receiving the post. “It’s no big secret I’ve invested a lot of time in youth. All the youth I’ve come across have stories and they need someone to turn to. So to have that role is to be there for the kids. It’s all come down to the teen CPAB putting me on the map in the city.”

Part of what caught his interest in guiding youth, he said, were the stories of “the two Manuels.” They both were students he met in his wife’s middle school classes and they both ran smack into troubles. One Manuel had fantastic support from his parents and was guided into the police cadet program. He became an A student and graduated from San Pedro High as the senior class president.

The other Manuel’s story disheartens him so much that tears still well in Buscaino’s eyes when he recalls it. At 14, the other Manuel got involved in some gang ties, had no support from “above ground or when he was in the ground.” He was shot repeatedly about four years while standing on his front porch on Sixth Street, near Gaffey.

Buscaino said he responded to the scene and traveled with Manuel on a short hospital ride, where the boy succumbed. “It was the longest six minutes in my life,” Buscaino said. “He had no support.” His killing was never solved.

That loss is one reason, Buscaino said, he’s driven to support youth – especially those that are ignored by the system and why the academy job suits him perfectly.

The academy, for ages 14 to 20 for about 5,000 youth, runs for 96 hours each and every Saturday to build a foundation for teens that come from all over Los Angeles. They are are trained in academics, leadership, physical training and many policing skills.

One of Buscaino’s greatest achievements , however, was launching the teen Community Police Advisory Board – which met with such great success including a dip in youth crime – that Chief Charlie Beck ordered all 21 areas of the department to establish such teen boards.

By the end of July, all 21 will host a Teen CPAB so teenagers can put “a face” on police, as one member said, and police can understand youngsters are human too.

Ironically in the cadet post, Buscaino will mostly oversee police officer instructors for the cadets, Paysinger said, and relay his philosophy when it comes to them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peacock Feathers Galore; If You Want One, Just Email

Our backyard, as I've told many readers before, resides as a fabulous roosting spot for peafowl galore, especially in our thick-branched Monterey Pine.

Our feathery friends come in droves at night to sleep, bringing along it seems, cousins, aunts, uncles and chicks. We also mistakenly offered a variety of food in an array of stunning burgundy, white and purple impatiens -- until I realized the birds' enchantment with this peacock delicacy. Every time I planted impatiens, the birds uprooted and ate them.

Recently, our happy-every-single-day-of-my life, dog Baxter, recently trotted out into the yard, bringing in one peacock feather after another to chew on. A quick investigation found about a dozen feathers strewn across the dense grass! I can't seem to throw the plumes away so I have clusters all over the house, sitting in vase after vase, plumes of teal and emerald colors perched on the kitchen counter top and all sorts of corners in the house.

So readers, if you are interested in inheriting a few plumes, just email if you are local and from my feather to yours -- you shall have them. Email: