The Year in Review
People and events that continue shaping our world
By Kevin Uhrich 12/22/2011
This week, we look to a future sure to be fraught with more financial uncertainty, more political turmoil, more cultural instability, more educational limits, more taxes, fees and fines and very likely more violence, if the recent escalation of force used by authorities to roust and arrest members of the Occupy movement from encampments around the country is a sign of things to come.
Pasadena hasn’t been immune to the social calamities occurring in bigger, less affluent communities. We have our own Occupy movement, which has taken a less confrontational but no less productive approach to demonstrating discontent with the state of the world. Participants know that for as comfortable as some of us have become, there are among their ranks members of a swelling army of people — 99 percenters — who have nothing. Things are dire at every level — people are still losing homes in record numbers, schools are still woefully underfunded, cities are running out of money, laying off people and turning more and more to the private sector, public services are being slashed …
Of course, no one knows for sure what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. But, even without having dearly departed oracles like Tony Stewart, Pat Rostker, Maurice Morse, Raul Borbon, Jim Plotkin and Ralph McKnight with us any longer to show us the way, we can still make some educated guesses. And a good place to start that process is by re-examining where we’ve been in the past year.
While we’re doing that, it might do well to remember the theme of the 2012 Tournament of Roses: Just Imagine …
Pasadena Council members Terry Tornek and Steve Madison get into a political dustup over Tornek’s support for Madison’s election rival, businesswoman Carolyn Nabor; civil rights leader Anthony “Tony” Stewart dies at age 92; LA County zoning officials close Altadena’s Danny’s Farm, a petting zoo named for the autistic son of Angels pitching coach Jim Gott; and Mary O’Connor, the single mother of two small children taken by county child care workers, pleads with a judge to get her babies back.
Robert Nelson, a JPL scientist and a plaintiff in a lawsuit aimed to stop the government from doing background checks on contractors, tells former Deputy Editor Jake Armstrong that the US Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the checks makes the nation less safe; Elton John tells Arts Writer Carl Kozlowski how he’s settled down over the past several years; Taboo, of the Black Eyed Peas, explains to Kozlowski how he rebounded after hitting bottom; and reporter Jana Monji reveals how city officials fail to police the city’s dog park, where she was attacked and her own pet was killed.
Caltech’s Bob O’Rourke gets a new lease on life with a donated lung; the city names an alley for Jim Plotkin, an Old Pasadena founder who suffers with lung cancer; and the Weekly learns that Board of Education candidate Sean Baggett is on probation for a DUI-related fine he failed to pay.
A transportation advocacy groups says several Pasadena-area bridges are structurally deficient; former Iraq War captive James Loney speaks with the Weekly about the power of forgiveness; a city commission recommends a ban on the use of plastic bags; and Gene Masuda takes his seat as the city’s first Asian-American City Council member.
Musicians picket plans to replace the California Philharmonic with the Pasadena POPS at the LA County Arboretum; city officials unveil the design and flavor of a cake commemorating Pasadena’s 125th birthday; restaurateur Robin Salzer starts a meals program at the Jackie Robinson Center; and Kareem Abdul Jabar talks with Kozlowski about his new book, “On the Shoulders of Giants.”
Newt Gingrich swings through Pasadena as part of what many had thought (hoped) was his last hurrah as a GOP presidential candidate. That week, Michelle Obama heads to Pasadena to raise funds for her husband; Make Music Pasadena attracts thousands of music lovers; boot camp operator Kelvin “Sgt. Mac” McFarland begins hearings on charges he kidnapped a former member of his program; and former Superintendent Diaz lets it all hang out in a candid interview with Deputy Editor André Coleman.
Councilman Chris Holden announces plans to run for the Assembly; Errol “Fog of War” Morris talks with Kozlowski about his latest film, “Tabloid”; Assemblyman Anthony Portantino says cuts imposed on his office are political payback for his opposition to the budget submitted by Gov. Jerry Brown; Oscar-winner Marvin Hamlisch takes the baton with the Pasadena POPS; Pasadena Fire Chief Dennis Downs announces plans to retire; and longtime community activist Ralph McKnight dies at 78.
Kozlowski finds out why former white supremacist Bryon Widner removed his many hateful tattoos; a local post office is named in honor of Tuskegee Airman Oliver Goodall; a Noise Within prepares to open in East Pasadena; businessman Sam Han uses his Pasadena-based nonprofit to help give North Korean orphans a new life in America; in a precursor to the Occupy movement, 50 demonstrators storm the One West Bank branch on North Lake Avenue to stop foreclosure proceedings against Rose Gudiel of La Puente; and John Gundry takes charge as superintendent of PUSD.
Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh comes to Pasadena to speak about “Enjoying the Moment of Now”; Tom Hayden meditates on America’s “Long War” against terrorism on the 10th anniversary of 9/11; Bill Nye talks with Features Editor Sara Cardine about his new role as head of The Planetary Society; and the city extends City Manager Michael Beck’s contract indefinitely, making him city manager for life.
A report slams the Sheriff’s Department for a rise in the number of shootings of unarmed suspects; former state Attorney General John Van de Kamp joins the chorus of voices calling for reform of the Sheriff’s Department; Board of Education members choose sides in a decision to censure a member for disclosing closed session information; and businessman Jim Plotkin succumbs to cancer at 72.
A video surfaces revealing the brutal treatment of children at a military-style boot camp; members of Occupy Pasadena urge people to take their money out of banks and put it into credit unions; Pat Rostker, a member of one of three families to sue PUSD to integrate schools, thus starting busing, dies at age 90; and civil rights leader and lifelong teacher Maurice Morse also dies. She was 86.
JPL’s Mars Science Lab heads for the Red Planet; hurricane-force winds topple trees, down power lines and cause tens of millions of dollars in damage around the San Gabriel Valley; activist Raul Borbon loses his battle with cancer at age 56; local activist Marvin Schachter is honored by AARP for a lifetime of good works; and the city formally calls an end to its red-light camera program. n