February 5th, 2013 on the
lunar calendar neo-pagan wheel, brings an end to the darkest days of the year. From here on out the sun gets brighter but will we ever see the light?
A dignified tone was set at the beginning by a welcome from the Pastor in a beautiful wood paneled room of the Presbyterian Church at the corner of Colorado Blvd. and Madison St. Three compassionate gentlemen each stated their own vision for representing District 3 and for the city of Pasadena as a whole.
The Pastor introduced Jonathan Edewards, President of the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Association (DPNA).
Edewards gave a brief presentation on how DPNA affects the southern part of District 3 along the freeway and Pasadena central. He spoke about proper planning in transportation and development emphasizing housing density and walkability. Photos depicting current businesses that are only inviting to citizens in cars and not to pedestrians or those on two wheels foreshadowed a discussion about being less car dependent and thereby reducing traffic within the city.
“Pasadena has good bones,” Edewards said, “since it was built before the Age of the Car.”
The three candidates running to replace the vacant city council seat, last occupied by the new California Assemblyman Chris Holden, sat together on a slightly raised platform. Nicholas Benson, John J. Kennedy, Ishmael Trone, and the Moderator Greg Gunther, VP of DPNA, began with the candidates giving their opening statements, then answering questions from DPNA followed by questions submitted on cards from the audience of about 50 people. Mayor Bogaard was in attendance, although he preferred to remain inconspicuous, it was good to see him there. He left early.
The nitty gritty:
In opening statements Benson placed most of his interest on the homeless, the plight of immigrants, and on providing resources to low income families. He himself is an immigrant from Africa and came to Pasadena to live on Orange Grove near a church. The church helped him to assimilate and encouraged him to succeed by furthering his education. He stated that he was actively recruited by commissions and committees in northwest Pasadena to bring leadership to the community.
Kennedy expounded on his educational achievements growing up in and attending Pasadena public elementary/secondary schools, graduating from Blair High School, attending USC, and police training/experience in Virginia. Kennedy said he went to law school in Washington DC. He believes quality educational opportunities should be available to everyone no matter where they live and no matter how poor or discouraged.
Trone is a small business owner. His concerns rest mainly on growing the economy, creating jobs and caring about the environment. He quoted the Jesuit priest founder of Homeboy Industries, Father Boyle “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Trone reminded the crowd that Chris Holden endorsed his candidacy.
All three candidates said they agree with healthy environmental stewardship by supporting transportation alternatives including bike lanes, pedestrian friendliness throughout the city, and are in support of bans on plastic bags and polystyrene. All candidates agreed that the newly updated Draft General Plan for the city is consistent with these objectives and all vowed to support it.
Some specific questions;
On completion of the Madison Street Pedestrian Bridge over the 210 Freeway?
All candidates said they were for completion but it was pretty obvious they didn’t understand or know about the half completed framework meant exclusively for pedestrians and bikes that could link the Villa Gardens residents to the Fuller Seminary campus. They all expressed support for 210 overpasses becoming more pedestrian and bike friendly.
The 710 Freeway?
Benson is for it, especially a tunnel.
Kennedy is against, although he did say he was in favor in the past when his neighborhood had sacrificed years ago for its completion.
Trone is against it but only in sympathy for the neighborhoods in direct line to be destroyed. He said the EIR had not yet been completed and until then his position is on the No Build alternative. Out of all the candidates Trone seemed to know the most about this issue.
As a general comment, none of the candidates seemed to grasp the relevance of the 710 proposals and the detrimental health affects it would have on residents of District 3. The ends of the tunnel will dump 4.5 miles of accumulated unfilterable particulates directly into the district. Further reading material on this subject was given to each candidate after the forum ended.
NFL in the Rose Bowl?
Benson’s concern was NFL’s lack of permanence –if new jobs would be sustainable and if they’d be provided to Pasadena residents in dire need.
Kennedy and Trone said NFL should only be allowed to use the Rose Bowl by a special agreement or a rider which would have to include NFL responsibility for damages incurred and damage control of the Arroyo which is consistent with the current city council majority.
Hahamongna, wild or developed?
Benson: It should be studied carefully before anything is done. If not studied then leave it the way it is.
Kennedy: There are other uses besides its “rustic” use. We should find a balance.
Trone: The first concern is the danger of the sediment building up behind the dam that has to be removed. Open space is important (he paused) for sports.
In closing, each candidate restated what they had said in the opening. Kennedy became a little more animated and curiously, spoke about himself in the third person. He said, “John J. Kennedy is…” At least, we know he currently lives in the district he is planning to represent. He gave his home address several times declaring it to be the “true estate” of an “indigenous” Pasadenan.
The take away:
They all came out strong at the beginning with statements in support of protection for the environment. By the end, that balloon had blown out of the room, down the Arroyo, and into the ocean. How can anyone say they care about the environment, the city, the state, the country, the planet when some of their most important positions are inconsistent with preservation of it?
1) How can you be for the NFL in the Rose Bowl polluting the Arroyo Seco: A SOMETIMES RIVER! A stream! -under any circumstances?
2) How can you be for a massively dangerous 710 Freeway Project through two major aquifers in the Arroyo Seco plus several earthquake faults, and much more pollution from adding more traffic lanes?
3) How can you be for developing, paving over, adding traffic, trash, pesticides, chemicals to our upstream Arroyo Seco WATER SOURCE in Hahamongna to enable sports fields with their amenities and say “balance” is important? What balance is death to an Arroyo Toad or to a rare and endangered song bird? They live or they die. You decide.
Be for all of these things if you subscribe to the idea that keeping certain problem residents busy with jobs and sports venues will solve everything. It won’t. And neither will adding more police everywhere. Isn’t there more to life than pounding the pavement with our eyes glued to our cell phones? These candidates spoke about “quality of life” but some of their views are inconsistent with nurturing that, as you can see.
Martin Luther King warned us long ago of approaching a spiritual death in this country but he wasn’t talking about religion, I think. He was talking about our inner life, our imaginations, our love and tenderness.
These candidates are indeed soulful men smart enough to know that if the air is dirty, the water polluted, the earth poisoned, then there is no will, no beauty, no peace, no reason to live. We are fortunate to have not one but three compassionate and intelligent candidates running for one city council seat. I wish they could all win so we could put them in a room at a bio-lab and set their minds straight: Today, the health of environmental resources has to come first, all else falls into its proper place that way.