The Year in Review
A look back at the best and worst of 2013
By Kevin Uhrich 12/26/2013
We open the year with our eyes in the air after a discussion by the ACLU on the use of drones by local police. The fates of record numbers of immigrants targeted for deportation come to be embodied in the story of Andres Romero, a former gang counselor who spent nearly 10 years behind bars on an exaggerated burglary beef only to learn upon his release from prison last Christmas that he would be deported to Mexico. Arrests are made in the Christmas Day shooting death of sheriff’s technician and longtime volunteer Victor McClinton, who was an accidental victim in a drive-by shooting. Community groups offer several birthday celebrations for Martin Luther King Jr., Pasadena honors Japanese internment resister and civil rights icon Fred Korematsu, and council candidates John Kennedy, Ishmael Trone and the Rev. Dr. Nicholas Benson explain why they would best replace former Councilman Chris Holden, now a state Assemblyman. Arturo Sandoval and his Big Band visit Glendale’s Alex Theatre, Christopher Kennedy Lawford brings his story of recovery and redemption to Pasadena, and US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor speaks with PW about judicial activism, the court’s Catholic majority, growing up poor in the Bronx and her No. 1 book, “My Beloved World.” By month’s end the residency of one of the council’s District 3 candidates — Trone — is questioned, resulting in a district attorney probe.
The checkered past of another District 3 candidate — this time Benson — becomes the latest bizarre twist in the race. Prolific Al Gore declares “democracy has been hacked” at a Pasadena book signing, acclaimed Pasadena Symphony conductor James DePreist dies at his home in Arizona, prolific author Jerry Stahl releases a flurry of fiction exploring the “maniacal workings of an addicted brain,” the city officially designates Pasadena a “Fair Trade Town,” and PW learns that NASA has lost tens of thousands more personnel files than originally believed with the theft of a laptop computer. In the world of education, Art Center College of Design student Catherine Menard wins a competition held for the creation of the city’s Armenian Genocide Memorial. South Pasadena celebrates 125 years with an eye toward tomorrow and a hold on its heritage, legendary pop composer Van Dyke Parks gives a rare performance for Friends of South Pasadena Public Library, and Benson bows out of the race after PW reports that his real last name is Mkandla. PW also reports neither Benson nor Mkandla possess a doctorate degree and that the candidate uses a number of aliases and birthdates.
Local cops find DNA linking former Pasadena boot camp operator Kelvin “Sgt. Mac” McFarland to a number of sex crimes, Board of Education incumbents win reelection in the newly redistricted district, and Tyron Hampton later squares off with Ruben Hueso in a runoff which underdog Hampton wins. In the council race, Kennedy beats out Trone for the council’s District 3 seat. Over at Pasadena City College, a teacher’s group and the student union vote no confidence in PCC President Mark Rocha after Rocha convinces the Board of Trustees to end winter intersession classes. Alan Zorthian, son of local arts legend Jirayr “Jerry” Zorthian, is named grand marshal of the Doo Dah, Pasadena’s “other” parade, a coalition of Pasadena-area churches sponsor peace-related events on the 10-year Iraq War anniversary, actor Michael Rooker tells PW Arts Writer Carl Kozlowski about his role on America’s hottest show, “The Walking Dead,” El Centro de Accion Social celebrates Cesar Chavez’s 86th birthday with a community Peace Walk, Pasadena Star-News Editor Frank Girardot pulls the mask off “Clark Rockefeller” in his book “Name Dropper,” and PCC places its student newspaper adviser on leave following stories critical of the administration.
Experts say more senior citizens will be living on the streets if more isn’t done to increase housing opportunities, a former council candidate, Chris Chahinian, submits his own ideas for Armenian Genocide memorial, naughty pirate susAnn Edmonds claims the title of Doo Dah Queen, and more people than ever rank the environment low among their concerns. Thank goodness Hugh Bowles isn’t among them. Bowles claimed victory after the city ended plans to build a soccer facility in Hahamongna Watershed Park. Chinese political and environmental unrest gets an airing at the Doo Dah, Caltech, Kidspace and Union Station are among the winners of Green City Awards, Grammy winner Quetzal Flores recalls his rocking Pasadena past and how he came to write songs for “The Crumbles,” and Occidental College Professor Peter Dreier tells PW readers why Pasadena needs a permanent educational facility to enshrine native son Jackie Robinson’s place in our local and national history.
Dozens of PUSD employees given pink slips learn that they may not lose their jobs after all, five political hopefuls — none Latino — vie for a still open Pasadena School Board seat, new and old members take seats on Pasadena school board and City Council, and Pasadena mourns the loss of straight-talking former Board of Education member William ‘Bib’ Bibbiani. Meanwhile, former council candidate Mkandla/Benson is arrested for outstanding traffic warrants, artist Tony Gleeson celebrates nearly a quarter-century of great PW covers and illustrations, Walter Mosley tells PW how he brought Easy Rawlins back from near death in “Little Green,” Burt Bacharach offers some sage advice for players in the game of love, activist and “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler discusses her memoir at All Saints, actress Mackenzie Phillips talks about her roller coaster ride to sobriety, the annual free Make Music Pasadena festival returns with a bang, and Alhambra police using computers to “predict” crime causes concern among constitutional experts.
Local residents Jim and Dawn O’Keeffe’s “Go Public,” an unflinching look at a day in the life of local schools, screens in Pasadena, the last few members of Occupy’s “Foxy 6,” protesters arrested at an appearance by former Mexican President Vicente Fox, file claims for damages against city, and the Board of Education bypasses Latino applicants and appoint Sierra Madre’s Mikala Rahn to a vacant at-large seat, leaving the board with no Latino representation. Comic Jimmy Dore scowls about the world while loving life in Pasadena, and in the world of politics, local lawmakers remain mum on reports of government eavesdropping on American citizens. In the business world, Pasadena-based Dog Haus announces plans to become a nationwide chain. As the city considers plans to convert the historic Julia Morgan building — the former YWCA —into a boutique hotel, officials with the Pasadena Museum of History celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Colorado Street Bridge. Altadena’s John Clayton and Hubert Laws team up for a Quincy Jones tribute at the Playboy Jazz Fest, folks with the Rose Bowl announce special events to mark the 100th Rose Bowl Game, and longtime activist Ralph Poole is remembered for his devotion to family, quiet diplomacy and being a “warrior for justice.”
The LA Times announces its intention to shutter its scrappy Pasadena newspaper, the Pasadena Sun, the US Supreme Court moves gay marriage into the mainstream by tossing portions of the Defense of Marriage Act and dismissing Proposition 8, former boot camp operator McFarland faces 13 years after admitting to sex crimes and kidnapping, Steve Carell talks with PW about acting, his family and the pursuit of happiness, and efforts to recall District 6 City Councilman Steve Madison fail miserably. In state politics, Pasadena Councilwoman Jacque Robinson and former Assemblyman Anthony Portantino prepare to vie for the state Senate seat now occupied by Sen. Carol Liu, a coalition calls for more civilian oversight of the Sheriff’s Department during prison realignment, Wendie Malick, one of America’s top comic actresses, shows her serious side with Rachael Worby and MUSE/IQUE, local leaders express disappointment in the not-guilty verdict in Trayvon Martin shooting case, and the local journalism community mourns the sudden death of veteran newswoman Janette Williams.
Faced with overruns on renovation costs, officials with the Tournament of Roses and Legacy Connections launch a campaign to sell memorial bricks, which will then be set into the apron around the stadium’s entrance, to help complete the job. On the education front, Latino groups express disappointment over the lack of representation on the school board, and at City Hall, Benson/Mkandla is in more trouble, becoming one of two landlords facing multiple criminal charges filed by the City Prosecutor’s Office. In Glendale, a statue memorializing Korean “comfort women” of World War II rekindles old racial tensions while in Pasadena a city commission lets the City Council decide on the location of a monument commemorating the Armenian Genocide. Graham Nash teams up with old friend David Crosby to raise funds for the children of Five Acres, and three Pasadena police officers are cleared of wrongdoing in two separate internal investigations as their superiors downplay interest in the use of drones.
City Manager Michael Beck urges Armenian leaders to come together on a planned Genocide memorial. Also at Cit Hall, the council’s Public Safety Committee hears its first request for a study of whether Pasadena should form a civilian oversight board for its Police Department. Federal officials waffle on an opinion about the health hazards of evermore popular electronic cigarettes as cities, including Pasadena, crack down, and local congressional leaders express concerns over a possible military strike on Syria. Here at home, local leaders examine compromise plans to keep a historic archery range open, singer/songwriter and former PW writer Debra Davis fondly remembers the life and times of longtime PW food reviewer Dan O’Heron, and a bill introduced by state Sen. Liu gets Caltrans out of the local landlord business after a half-century. Also in September, PUSD officials go in search of truant students, and the council shoots down ideas for civilian oversight of police.
The Eagle Rock Music Festival goes for quality over quantity, the still largely unregulated Pasadena City Council adopts a resolution against corporate spending in state and federal elections, then formally rejects a study on police oversight. Students at Azusa Pacific University, a Christian college, support a transgender teacher with a petition and demonstrations, but the college lets him go anyway, Altadena Library hosts a program explaining the Affordable Care Act, Ed Asner returns to the Pasadena Playhouse as “FDR,” critics correctly suspect the city’s pet sterilization program is an attempt to get rid of pit bulls, and a judge tosses out a bribery lawsuit against two former top Pasadena City College officials. Late-night TV host Arsenio Hall gives an early evening performance at the Ice House, former Pasadena gang counselor Romero heads to Mexico after his deportation is upheld, and the parents of slain journalist Daniel Pearl promote peace and education at an interfaith music event in Pasadena.
Three former NAACP presidents hope to clear the air about police relations with Chief Phillip Sanchez, Congressman Adam Schiff tells Larry King Congress should have been briefed on high-level wiretaps of foreign leaders, and Ross Selvidge wins a seat on the PCC Board of Trustees. Local relief efforts get under way to help people in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan, new city Environmental Health Manager Liza Frias tells the Weekly about her plans for revamping city’s restaurant safety procedures, storyteller Dylan Brody says he was given the chance of a lifetime opening for humorist David Sedaris at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, and Pasadena education officials scale back the role of police officers on local campuses. Pasadena resident Bruce Dern helps tell a story from the heartland in Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” Manson Family prosecutor and Pasadenan Vincent Bugliosi attempts to demythologize the 50-year-old JFK assassination, the Pasadena Playhouse brings race and justice to the stage with “Twelve Angry Men,” and Joan Williams, Miss Crown City 1958, recalls being snubbed by the city for being black. PETA protesters still want the SeaWorld float either out of the Rose Parade or changed to reflect alleged orca abuse, and the council approves an ordinance requiring owners to sterilize pit bulls.
As PCC reinstates journalism Professor Warren Swil, who was accused of sexually harassing a student, a judge rules PCC must also reinstate winter intersession classes and pay lost teacher salaries — with 7 percent interest. Author Amy Tan discusses her dramatic life history and new novel in an appearance sponsored by Vroman’s. A federal grand jury indicts 18 mostly low-level deputies over jail violence and other alleged crimes, local restaurant owner Robin Salzer surpasses 35,000 free meals served in three years, PETA’s orca cause catches on with major stars canceling appearances at Florida’s SeaWorld marine park, and the Weekly learns that the City Council’s Public Safety Committee canceled 44 meetings in three years. At the end of the year, the paper looks at the frightening pattern of throwing police power at social problems, Caltech faculty members win Breakthrough Prizes in fundamental physics and life sciences, and longtime Tournament of Roses leader Harriman L. Cronk dies at the age of 80.