What Goes Around...

What Goes Around...

Familiar themes emerge while political power shifts

By Sheila Mendes-Coleman 07/17/2014

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As President George W. Bush’s second presidential election and the midway point of the decade approached, winds of change were blowing through Pasadena and the nation.

In 2004, reporters spent the year covering the officer-involved deaths of LaMont Robinson and Maurice Clark. The two deaths led to calls for civilian oversight of the Pasadena Police Department.

In other news, Bush was reelected and the nation marked the 50th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared segregation of public schools unconstitutional. Here at home, Pasadena Unified School District officials were forced to deal with increasing tensions between Armenian and black students at Marshall Fundamental School.

In 2005, Pasadena’s City Council agreed to cover a $525,000 deficit the Old Pasadena Management District (OPMD) incurred that year in operating three city parking garages. The OPMD parking manager was exhorted to do a more effective job of bookkeeping, hiring and overseeing daily operations.

In local politics, the Weekly endorsed Scott Phelps, who defeated incumbent Susan Kane in a runoff election for Seat 3 on the Pasadena Board of Education.

Hurricane Katrina decimated an enormous portion of the US Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle. The deadly storm killed over 1,800 people and caused more than $115 billion in damage.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and adopted the name Pope Benedict XVI. Two trains derailed in Glendale, killing 11 people and injuring 200.

In 2006, the Bakewell Company planned to proceed with its plans to develop Heritage Square, despite the rescission of its financial partner, the nonprofit group Century Housing, but ran into problems with the council, which refused to enter negotiations despite two city commissions recommending Bakewell’s proposal. Weekly reporters were on hand as Bakewell supporters accused council members of racism.

In June, former PW Deputy Editor Joe Piasecki began an award-wining series of stories on the plight of Los Angeles County’s foster children. Also that year Councilman Chris Holden managed to get on the ballot a measure which would have forced the city to negotiate with the NFL. The measure, which would have given the NFL rights to play at the Rose Bowl for 25 years in return for a $500 million stadium renovation, rent and other concessions, was voted down.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued the Pasadena-based Lawry’s restaurant chain due to allegations that it denied men the right to be food servers at its restaurants, instead giving them lower-paying jobs, such as bus boys.

In 2007, three women commanded top salaries at City Hall. City Manager Cynthia Kurtz headed the list with a salary of $235,928, City Attorney Michele Bagneris’ income was reportedly $216,358, and Phyllis Currie, general manager of the city’s Water and Power Department, made $197,103.

Work began on the restoration of historic Central Park in Old Pasadena. The 100-year-old green space, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Old Pasadena Historic District, underwent a $3.2 million renovation.

Without a doubt, 2008 was the most historical year of the decade, with Barack Obama becoming the first black president.

Two months before its 20th anniversary, Crown City Brewery in Pasadena closed its doors for good. PW writer Dan O’Heron bid a fond farewell to the iconic Pasadena establishment on Raymond Avenue in his article “Cappin’ the Tap.”

Before his inauguration, Obama met with President Bush to discuss the nation’s economic meltdown. Bush and House leaders agreed on a $150 billion stimulus package, which included tax rebates of up to $600 for individuals, $1,200 for couples and an additional $300 per child for families.

A nationwide search began for Pasadena’s next city manager when Kurtz left City Hall for the private sector after 10 years as the city’s top administrator. Police Chief Bernard Melekian was named interim city manager and Chris Vicino became interim chief. Jacque Robinson beat Robin Salzer in a runoff election for the District 1 seat vacated by longtime Councilwoman Joyce Streator.

The paper’s coverage of the Station fire in the Angeles National Forest in 2009 won a First Place award in California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Better Newspapers Contest the following year.

Also in 2009, Southland Publishing, publishers of the Pasadena Weekly, shuttered LA CityBeat, the alternative weekly for the Greater Los Angeles area, after six years in operation.

Also that year, Leroy Barnes Jr. was shot and killed by two Pasadena police officers, and once again local residents demanded civilian oversight of the department.

In 2010, the Pasadena City Council voted unanimously to give preliminary approval to a plan that would bring an environmental education center, a new equestrian facility and a bike path to the Hahamongna Watershed Park.

Former Pasadena Playhouse Managing Director Lars Hansen died from liver cancer exactly one week prior to the Playhouse’s plans to permanently shutter its doors with the final performance of “Camelot.” The landmark theater was subsequently saved from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with matching funds from an anonymous donor.

PW reported the names of the finalists for the vacant police chief’s position. Almost immediately, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo backed out of the running after the news reacheed his department. In the end, City Manager Michael Beck selected Santa Monica Deputy Chief Phillip Sanchez to lead the department. Sanchez was selected over Vicino, who took a position in Riverside.

In 2011, the political landscape changed when Councilman Chris Holden announced plans to run for the Assembly. The city entered the first phase of the $152 million renovation of the 88-year-old Rose Bowl in an effort to improve and preserve the landmark.

Pasadena Public Information Officer Ann Erdman recovered from emergency surgery at Huntington Hospital performed  after her colon ruptured, and hurricane-force winds toppled trees, downed power lines and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage around the San Gabriel Valley.

In 2012, Pasadena police officers shot and killed 19-year-old Kendrec McDade after Oscar Carrillo-Gonzales placed cops on high alert by claiming that McDade and a minor robbed him at gunpoint. Carrillo-Gonzales later admitted that he lied about the gun. McDade’s parents filed separate lawsuits against the city. And once again local residents called for civilian oversight of the Police Department.

Pasadena NAACP President Joe Brown announced his resignation after being criticized for allowing Chief Sanchez to host the NAACP’s Ruby McKnight Williams Awards dinner. McDade’s family held an anti-police protest outside the dinner.


John Kennedy easily defeated Ishmael Trone and Nicholas Benson for the vacant District 3 City Council seat. Benson dropped out of the race after the Weekly revealed he used several aliases and birthdates.

Tyron Hampton Jr. won a seat on the school board, Victor Gordo and Terry Tornek ran unopposed for their respective District 5 and District 7 seats and local law enforcement officials stirred up controversy when they switched to digitally encrypted radio signals that block the media’s access to live police chatter.


The Pasadena Playhouse bid a fond farewell to Stephen Eich, its executive director for the previous three years. Eich was instrumental in snatching the playhouse from the brink of bankruptcy a few years prior and weathered the many storms the financial crisis wrought, which included complete shutdown, staff departures and layoffs. Pledges totaling $5.7 million were received by a private funding group assisting in closing the financing gap on the Rose Bowl renovation. Stadium officials aimed to raise at least $20 million of the $160 million renovation by the projected 2014 completion date.

City officials told the Weekly that they were open to an NFL team playing in Pasadena while a new stadium was being built in Los Angeles.

President Obama was reelected after a contentious and divisive campaign against Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

In 2013, Pasadena officials considered a gun-buyback program on the heels of increasing violence in the city.

Michael Ross, chief executive officer of the Pasadena Convention Center, was reinstated by the Pasadena Center Operating Co. Ross had been placed on paid administrative leave in December after an employee complaint about a hostile work environment.


Several months after the US Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, a Pasadena woman’s uphill legal battle caused the Obama administration to assert that lesbian and gay married couples deserve the same benefits as other legally joined spouses when it comes to veterans’ benefits. Tracey Cooper-Harris, a former sergeant, filed a lawsuit against the federal government in 2013. In the suit, she claimed that her legally married spouse should be granted the same benefits that the US Department of Veterans Affairs gives to other married or similarly joined couples.


Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, becoming the first pope to do so since 1415. Argentina-born Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who became a cardinal in 2001, was elected pope by a papal enclave in March 2013, taking the name Pope Francis.


In 2014, the city reached a settlement with McDade’s parents. Councilman Kennedy led the call for civilian oversight of the Police Department and Tornek announced plans to run for mayor.

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