December 2007

This is a different Christmas for me, for us. My husband and I didn’t hold our annual party, aren’t hosting any big shindigs. Instead, we’re visiting friends, going to other people’s parties, viewing the neighborhood Christmas lights — like the Balian Mansion —  stopping in at relatives, and enjoying a little snack and chatter, doing a few things for others. This is the first time in years I got cards out to nearly everyone on my list — custom cards at that. I have time to bake my grandmother’s Swedish Coffee Bread, wrap all my gifts with care, hand deliver cards to my neighbors, call friends who are far away. The gift of time, means, intention and enjoyment of all these things is the greatest gift.  Merry Christmas to all! Here’s a reminder of how to enjoy it all…

Holiday Eating
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table
 knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave
 immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare. You can’t find
it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has
10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an
eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me.
Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy.
Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed
potatoes Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat step #3.

 4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or
whole milk. If it’s skim, pass . Why bother? It’s like buying a sports
car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control
your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other
people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s.
You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the
time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table
while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like
frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near
them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center
of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them
behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if
you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have
three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

(sorry I’m late on this, been a little busy!) 

Note: I’ve corrected the error he made in names and acknowledged in an email. Saving you the trouble of reading that.)

Thursday December 13 2007

Elliot Gold here.

Not sure if you saw Joe Hopkins’ Pasadena Journal article two weeks ago bashing me, and our effort to guarantee quality education in Altadena, but to Joe’s credit, he published my reply (along with a reply by Scott Phelps).

Joe (really Ruth Brown) was fair, but were unable to publish the complete letter I sent, so I’ve included three things in this e-mail

1. The link to my shortened letter and Scott’s letter (

2. My full length letter (see “Elliot’s Letter)


3. Joe’s full length editorial from two weeks ago- Go to

Thanks for all of your support of the public schools in the Altadena and Pasadena area.

Elliot Gold


November 28, 2007

To: Joe Hopkins, Pasadena Journal,
From: Elliot Gold,

RE: “Black Operated Charter Schools Surviving- in Spite of Efforts to Destroy Them…” November 22- 28, 2007 edition of The Pasadena Journal


Allow me to quote someone I had respect for 35 years go:

“Black, Brown, and any white people of good will wanting some semblance of equal representation in Pasadena might take a lesson from the Bradley Miracle. When that combination got together in Los Angeles, a miracle happened. A Black man was elected Mayor. But it took all three working together to overcome the racism of those in power. In Pasadena, that threesome must make itself heard….”

Maybe your readers don’t remember those words, calling for all ethnic groups to work together on education, but as you know, they were written by a young Joe Hopkins, in your weekly column, “A View from the Streets,” published by the Pasadena Eagle in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During my multi-year tenure at the Eagle as a photographer, writer and columnist with you, and later as the Editor, I appreciated your dedication to the black population of Pasadena. In those days, I found you not only a dedicated, but an accurate journalist. Based on what you reported in the Journal last week, you seem to have lost both your dedication and accuracy.

Joe, as you suggested 35 years go, in your April 20, 1972 and June 7, 1973 columns for the Pasadena Eagle, the focus of all parents, like me, whose children have attended schools in the PUSD, is to get them a quality education, one they can take to institutions of higher education, as well as to the workplace. Using your words, such an education requires “a valid and necessary mechanism,” such as an accredited and fiscally responsible school, staffed by experienced teachers. Contrary to what you said in your article, the Nia Charter Educational Center doesn’t meet your criteria. Allow me to point out just a few inaccuracies in your story.

First of all you did not accurately explain why Nia is not accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) ( Factually, Nia’s administration chose not to apply for accreditation, even after they left the Metropolitan Baptist Church and had been at the Edison campus for nearly a full school year, until my Neighborhood Association discovered and publicized the fact that they had failed to do so. Why is it important to be accredited by WASC?  Well as you and I both know, though you failed to point it out in your article, students attending non-accredited schools cannot transfer their credits to other public high schools in the state of California, nor can they use those credits to be admitted to a number of colleges in California, including UCLA. Factually, Nia chose not even to apply for accreditation until after three years of operation. The parents of Nia’s students didn’t know this until we, through our Neighborhood Association, discovered it when a student from Nia applied to attend high school in the Duarte Unified School District, and was told she would have to repeat all classes she took at Nia, due to Nia’s lack of accreditation.

Yes, we made headlines when we found this out.


Tell me, Joe: How many 16- to 18-year-old high school students that you and I knew when you and I worked together at the Pasadena Eagle—or, more importantly, that you and I know today—would be willing to repeat their years spent in high school, having to take classes alongside students two to four years younger than them?

Due to Nia’s lack of diligence, even the students who have chosen to complete their high school years at Nia may find that the colleges they apply to will reject their high school credits when they “graduate” in June 2008. Why? Well, it’s because the accreditation process takes a minimum of 18 months, putting the possibility, and I say “possibility” of accreditation being awarded to Nia, at nine months after Nia’s seniors graduate in June 2008.

Yes, there is a good chance that Nia will not be awarded accreditation. Why not? Well for one thing, look at the fact, made public by Nia at their September 13, 2007 community meeting, which they held after we “made headlines,” that only half of their teachers have teaching credentials, a fact you failed to point out in your article.

The second major inaccuracy in your story was about Nia’s test scores. In your article, you talk about Nia’s students’ scores rising over the past year. If that is true, why is it that the State lowered Nia from the second lowest decile, to the lowest decile, based on standardized tests taken by their students? Why is it that Great Schools, an independent educational foundation backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and the Flora Hewlett Foundation, gives Nia a score of two out of ten (, ten being best?

The third inaccuracy in your story had to do with daily attendance. The PUSD numbers indicate the average daily attendance at Nia is 141, while your article says “…according to records shown to The Journal by (Naima) Olugbala, [it] was closer to 170.” Interesting that you would accept this from the Nia administration, when all you, as a journalist, had to do is go to the State public attendance web site ( to find out that Nia’s average enrolment fell from 212 for the school year 2005-2006 to 134 for the school year 2006-2007. With those data in front of you, as a journalist, I’d expect you to accept the PUSD’s figure of 141, and not the Nia claim of 170.

Finally, you refer to me as “Elliot Gold, a white activist, who has taken it onto himself to destroy the school even though he has no children in the school.”


Gee, Joe, why are you playing the “color” card? That’s a card you and I threw out of the deck when we worked together over 30 years ago at the Pasadena Eagle. I don’t know what you’ve done in the past 30 years, but during that time Shirley and I put our two sons (along with their Japanese middle names, telling of their Japanese ancestry) through Edison, Eliot, and Muir, schools that had no color cards. (Our boys didn’t carry their Native American heritage on their “cards,” due to it being only a small fraction of their blood.)

Don’t know what you were doing two-thirds of the way through that 30 years, but I don’t recall seeing you when we (blacks, browns, whites, and all ethnic groups) worked for months on the Measure Y proposition to put money into the schools all children of the PUSD could attend.

“White activist”! Joe, I ran possibly the most ethnically mixed Cub Scout Pack at Edison for a decade. And for the five years prior to that, I tutored and mentored kids of African American heritage. I have two “sons,” young men who to this day call me “dad,” “sons” who have as much pigment in their skin as you do.

Joe, this is not about pigment, this is about education. Do join us in getting qualified schools in the PUSD.

Oh, and another thing, I don’t even know Scott Phelps, never met him in my life, don’t think I’ve ever even been in the same auditorium with him. Calling me a “local activist” is accurate, but calling me “a close friend of Board member Scott Phelps” is inaccurate journalism.

Elliot M. Gold
Altadena Activist

Finally, here are some pictures from this year’s lighting ceremony. Pardon the quality — I was stuck using my Blackberry camera and let’s just say it wasn’t quite adequate for the occasion!

The Lights! The Fabulous Mrs. Altadena, Rosa Johnson and MeAltadena Children’s Choir — with legs!

I'll be posting my Xmas Tree Lane pix shortly. Til then, here's Monica's update 
Altadena Women's Network News 12-10-2007  
"There is no greater power than a community discovering what it cares about."   ~ Margaret Wheatley   ~~~ 
Woo-Hoo!  Dr. Sandra Thomas has been selected as the Altadena Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year!  
It takes two pages just to get through all Dr. Thomas's accomplishments, so this is a richly-deserved 
award.  You can read just a little about her here   
and you can read about her inspiring Bright Futures Scholars program for mentoring youth here:  The Pasadena School District has asked Dr. Thomas to almost 
double the size of her program this year. While PUSD is providing free space at Eliot Middle School, 
the program needs funding to underwrite the projects and activities for the students.  
If you're looking for some worthy year-end programs to make a donation to, please consider this one.  
Donation instructions are here:   
~~~ Don't know if the Christmas Tree Lane folks have photos 
posted yet, but you can see some of Saturday night's festivities on 
Flickr:  Kudos to Maureen and Tony Ward and the myriad 
volunteers who once again provided us with a wonderful celebration for the entire town to enjoy.   
~~~ Altadenan Sandy Gillis and her pals Jill A. Ganon and Jennifer Cheung published a second book 
about local homes and places of interest, At Home Pasadena.   ~~~ Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2007, MOMS Club 
of Altadena Party: 10 a.m. Entertainment by Music Together, holiday arts and crafts, a visit from 
Santa, food and refreshments, opportunity drawings, and much more. (626) 844-7916 or e-mail 
altadenamomsclub AT yahoo DOT com for more info. .   
~~~ Kudos to the organizers of the December 4 Joint Meeting of the Altadena Town Council and 
Pasadena School Board.  It was a very well-organized meeting with time for public comment and 
some good clarification on management issues.  I was particularly interested in learning about 
the budget process.  PUSD has to adjust its budget three times a year and plan the current year 
plus two more beyond it. And even then PUSD never knows what will happen after the governor and 
state legislature agree on the state budget.  Diaz and other District leaders reported to the 
audience and answered questions openly and directly, with no glossing over of the challenges 
ahead. He and his management and leadership teams are systematically addressing myriad issues 
after doing some serious review of PUSD's internal systems and structures. Each time I hear 
Superintendent Diaz speak I am more and more impressed.  It was great to see him and meet his 
family at Christmas Tree Lane Saturday night, too.   ~~~ The Pasadena Unified School District 
is very lucky to have lured Altadenan Binti Harvey away from LAUSD.  Binti will begin her 
tenure as the communications officer for PUSD in early January! Congratulations, Binti!   
~~~ Altadena Library Holiday Events  Chamber Music Express—Ultimate Math and Music Experience 
Violinist Paul Stein and Chamber Music Express blend music and imaginative storytelling, 
entertaining children and adults alike. Monday, December 10th, 7 p.m.  Mark Twain Handbell 
Ringers Choir Join us for an evening of holiday music with the Mark Twain Ringers Handbell 
Choir. Friday, December 14th, 7 p.m.  A Visit From Santa Santa will share a special Christmas 
story. Parents bring your cameras for a photo-op with Santa! Stay and make ornaments for our 
Christmas tree!  Also at Bob Lucas Branch. Friday, December 14th (Bob Lucas Branch); Saturday, 
December 15th (Main Library), 2 p.m.   
~~~ Office furniture available -- Prevent Child Abuse-California is selling furniture for a 
one person executive office. Desk, return and matching 2-drawer lateral file in excellent 
condition (purchased new 18 months ago). Cherry wood, two file drawers and two smaller 
drawers in the desk.  Also -- High-back executive chair, two side chairs and a small white sofa 
-- loveseat size. The entire suite for $500 or best offer -- purchaser will need to pick it up 
in Pasadena by 12-21-07. Anyone interested call Bonnie Armstrong at 626-786-6593.   
~~~ Jobs      >>  Full charge bookkeeper for Friends Outside, a 35-year old nonprofit 
organization which provides services to families affected by incarceration. The purpose 
of this position is to provide quality, timely, and accurate bookkeeping services an average 
of 20 hours per week from a Pasadena-based nonprofit organization.  Miminum 3 years experience 
with nonprofit bookkeeping, familiarity with government grant fund and project accounting. 
Please submit resume and salary history to Mary Weaver, Executive Director as follows: or (626) 795-1476 (fax).  Start date: January 1, 2008.      
>>  All Saints Church Foster Care Project seeks a consultant for the half-time Volunteer 
Coordinator position. Job requirements: Outstanding people skills, enthusiastic about 
helping foster kids, good computer skills, strong writing skills, ability to work as 
part of a team. Duties: The Volunteer Coordinator recruits, tracks, places, networks, 
encourages, educates and problem solves with the many volunteers who were interested 
in working with children and youth living in foster care, emancipated, homeless, 
incarcerated or under the supervision of probation. The Volunteer Coordinator links 
with partnering agencies serving these youth, becomes familiar with the volunteer 
activities available, and is the contact person and "face" of the Foster Care Project 
to the partnering agencies and the volunteers. Hours: 20 hours per week at $25 per hour. 
Application deadline:  December 16 or until filled. Contact:  Jeanette Mann at 626-797-0307 or 
by e-mail at  inbox AT fostercareproject DOT org .   ~~~ In the looking ahead department:      
>> Thu 1/3/2008 (7:30 am), Anthony Portantino Legislative Update Breakfast at the Altadena 
Community Center.  RSVP      >> NWPC State Chapter Reception, 
Sat 1/12/2008, Jeanne Register's home.  Inquire for details. jeanne DOT register AT charter 
DOT net      >> Altadena Branch of NAACP meets the 4th Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at the 
 Altadena Community Center, 730 E.       Altadena Drive. (Holiday months vary.) 
For more information call 626-794-7999.      
>> January 29 Altadena Sheriff's Community Advisory Council is hosting a town-hall type meeting 
where Altadenans can come together to share what they love about our community and their vision 
for making our community the best it can be. Save the date and bring your hopes and dreams for 
community health.    ~~~ Someone on the Chaney Trail listserv posted this helpful site for 
getting rid of unwanted catalogues:   
~~~ Love words?  You'll enjoy this site.  For each word you get right, 
Free Rice donates 20 grains of rice through the United Nations to help end world hunger. 
Thanks to Nora Lee for pointing us to this fun site.   Have a great week!  ~ Monica Hubbard  

Hope you can come out for the lighting of Xmas Tree Lane this Saturday at 5pm. I look forward to this event every year because of the oh so charming neighborhood gathering. This is the event that makes Christmas special! Below is a link to the official site with all the details. Don’t miss it! I can smell Christmas cookie dough just thinking of it! Oh, and I might have to make some Swedish glogg to stay warm!