Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden to visit Pasadena Friday

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 7/18/2019

Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy, in what he is calling an effort to bring “prepared, competent, relevant and sane leadership to the White House,” will welcome Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden to his home on Friday, July 19, for a lunchtime fundraiser.

“I have known Joe Biden for over 30 years,” said Kennedy, who represents Pasadena’s District 3. “So it is with an abundance of history and respect … as well as personal affection that I am hosting Vice President Biden at an intimate lunch gathering. This will be a special opportunity for each guest to meet and talk with Joe Biden and join in the excitement of becoming instrumental in electing Joe Biden as the next leader of our country.”

Biden is currently the frontrunner in the crowded field of Democratic candidates. His poll numbers have taken a hit in the weeks since fellow candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris criticized his opposition to 1970s-era school busing policies as a U.S. senator and his comments on working with segregationist senate colleagues, for which he subsequently apologized. On Monday, Biden denounced Medicare-for-all and laid out his healthcare plan, an extension of the Affordable Care Act that retains private insurance.

Those expected to attend the event at Kennedy’s home include his sister Lena L. Kennedy and District 6 City Councilman Steve Madison.

On June 29, Harris spoke at a private fundraiser at the West Pasadena home of Tamerlin Godley, who is running for Madison’s District 6 council seat.

During a visit to Pasadena in 2017, Biden called for unity and said the United States is “the only nation in the world organized around the notion that anything is possible. It’s time for us to pick our heads up again. We have a lot to lose but so much to gain if we start to pull together and treat each other with a little bit of decency in the political realm. It is time for us to lead the world again.”

Biden’s visit to Pasadena follows those of several other Democratic presidential candidates in recent weeks. On May 30, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand spoke at the Women’s City Club of Pasadena. On May 31, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders held a political rally at the Pasadena Convention Center and he, Harris, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee participated in the first presidential forum focused on immigration at the Pasadena Hilton.

Fellow presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana is also reportedly finalizing plans to stump in Pasadena.

Candidates are making sure to show up in California because the state has moved its primary election date up from June to March 3, also known as Super Tuesday. The earlier date — after only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — will ensure that California voters and the state’s nearly 500 delegates play a decisive role in determining the eventual nominee, who will be chosen at the Democratic National Convention in July 2020 in Milwaukee.

“Joe Biden has the requisite experience, temperament, intellect, broad-mindedness and fortitude to serve this nation in its top elected position,” said Kennedy. “As we face daunting challenges at home and abroad to restore competency, civility and respect for the rule of law, we need Joe’s leadership more than ever. Guided by basic decency and humanity, Joe is a true public servant with the compassion and commitment to serve the American people today and the experience to effectively get things done.”

A weekly by any other name

The Pasadena Weekly celebrates its 35th — wait, make that 90th — anniversary

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 7/11/2019

The Pasadena Weekly, which you are currently reading, is 35 years old this year in its modern form. But predecessors to the same paper actually date back much further than is commonly known — to 1929, to be exact. 

Back then, according to a timeline provided by UC Riverside’s Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research and original copies from the Altadena Historical Society’s collection, the paper was known as the Altadena Press. The weekly paper was established by C.F. Hoffman, who published it every Thursday morning at his press at 2708 N. El Molino Ave., Altadena (an area that is now technically Pasadena), and later at 2686 N. Lake Ave., Altadena.

Its first issue was published on Nov. 21, 1929, and its final issue was published April 27, 1944. The paper’s masthead read “The community of deodars” and “Let the folks back east know of the most delightful place in all the world. Send them the Altadena Press.” Later it read “This paper will tell the story to inquiring friends in the frozen east.” The paper was known as “the first real Altadena newspaper.”

One of the main stories in the paper’s first year and throughout the decades to follow was Pasadena’s attempt to annex Altadena.

‘The weekly with a mountain behind it’

Starting in 1932 and throughout the depression and war years, the Altadena Press continued under editor-publisher Grayson M. “Mac” McCarty at 750 E. Mariposa St. and later 870 E. Mariposa St., Altadena. McCarty had previously served on the staff of the New York Herald-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune and newspapers in Paul’s Valley, OK, and Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and Mineral Wells, Texas. In 1917, he enlisted in the National Guard and fought in France, and later served as director of the Altadena Chamber of Commerce. After he passed away on May 14, 1943, his widow Janie B. McCarty took over as publisher and editor.

The paper heavily covered Altadena’s contribution to the war effort at the time, complete with ads for war bonds and comic strips mocking the Nazis and Japanese imperialists. “We of The Altadena Press feel we must forgo the luxury of indulging in affairs that have no bearing on the course of the war,” reads a March 9, 1944, editorial. “By that we mean we will not advocate the expenditure of public funds on projects that can safely await the war’s end. To do otherwise, would be to slow the coming of victory.”

In the March 2, 1944, issue, McCarty announced the sale of the paper to Harry W. Smith, a Canadian who had previously served as a reporter for the San Bernardino Sun, managing editor of a weekly, associate editor of Desert Magazine and special correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor. Smith and his wife Helen served as publishers of the Altadena Press and changed the name to the Altadenan. Smith also served as editor. The credits read, “Continuation of Altadena Press” and “Your right to know is the key to all your liberties.”

The first issue of the paper known as the Altadenan, which was also a weekly published on Thursdays, was published May 4, 1944, at Smith’s press at 2396 N. Lake Ave., Altadena. In 1960, the Pasadena Mail was sold to Smith, who merged it with his paper and renamed it the Altadenan-Pasadenan. Its first issue under that name was published on Oct. 1, 1960.

In May 1976, Smith sold the paper to publisher Richard S.C. Redman, who also owned the Sierra Madrean, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times on May 23, 1976. Redman kept the paper’s offices at 2396 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, and named his wife Sue Redman as editor. Smith stayed on as a consultant. The masthead read “The weekly with a mountain behind it.” Its coverage included Pasadena’s attempt to annex Altadena.

In 1977, Redman began publishing the Altadenan-Pasadenan through a company called Altadenan Publishing Co. at the same offices. That company also began publishing an expanded, subscription-only addition called the Chronicle on Nov. 10, 1977, for 25 cents. The Altadenan-Pasadenan and the Chronicle ran until Dec. 29, 1983.

‘Continuing but broadening a tradition started in 1929’

In late 1983 or early 1984, the paper was purchased by Pasadena Media, Inc., an investment group that included future Pasadena mayor and current Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole, attorney and chairman Pierce O’Donnell, the late social activist Marvin Schachter, publisher Edward Matys, editor-in-chief Steve Coll, managing editor Dick Lloyd and business manager and assistant editor Larry Wilson, who now serves as public editor of the Pasadena Star-News.

Pasadena Media continued publishing at 2396 N. Lake Ave., Altadena, but changed the name of the paper from the Altadenan-Pasadenan and the Chronicle to Altadena: The Weekly. The first issue of that version was Jan. 5-12, 1984, with the masthead reading “Debut edition” and “Incorporating the Altadenan/Pasadenan & the Chronicle.”

In that first issue, publisher Matys wrote, “We are pleased today to present the Greater Pasadena area a ‘new newspaper,’ continuing but broadening a tradition started in 1929.”

The cover story of its first issue was about those who slept overnight along the Rose Parade route on New Year’s Eve and the cops who tried to wrangle them, and its feature arts and entertainment story was about the resurrection of the Pasadena Playhouse. In its second issue, the cover story was about Pasadena’s attempt to annex Altadena.

Pasadena Media also published Nine to Nine, a newspaper covering the business community in downtown Pasadena.

The Weekly cost 50 cents and was published under variations of its name for several years in the mid to late ’80s, such as the Altadena Weekly, Pasadena: The Weekly and the Pasadena/Altadena Weekly. Under the credits, it read, “The Pasadena/Altadena Weekly honors the past and does not fear the future.”

Later in 1984, Coll and Matys left the paper and Frank Kilpatrick became president and publisher. In 1986, Pasadena Media moved the paper’s offices to 300 S. Raymond Ave. #12, Pasadena, the first time in its history that the paper was produced in Pasadena. In 1987, the Pasadena/Altadena Weekly became part of O’Donnell’s 12-paper group, National Media, Inc.

James Vowell became editor-in-chief and Pamela Fisher became managing editor and later editor. Cartoonist Matt Groening’s comic strip “Life in Hell” made its first appearance in the paper in these early years, before “The Simpsons” cemented his legendary status. In 1987, Vowell left the paper to return to the LA Reader.

‘The Pasadena paper people actually read’

In January 1988, National Media sold the Weekly to Riordan-Laris Publications, a company owned by LA lawyer Richard Riordan, who went on to be LA’s mayor, and longtime Pasadenan and Downtown News Group founder and president Susan Laris. Laris served as publisher and editor, and Marc Porter Zasada served as executive editor.

Six months later, in July 1988, the paper was sold again for an undisclosed amount to Pasadena Publications, a company owned by Marge Wood and Jim Laris, Susan’s ex-husband. Jim became editor and co-publisher along with Wood, his new wife. Shirley Manning later became editor and Dan Hutson later became managing editor. The paper’s offices were moved to 155 S. El Molino Ave. #101, Pasadena.

Starting in April 1989, Pasadena Publications published both the Altadena Weekly and the Pasadena Weekly as two separate issues for the Altadena and Pasadena communities. However, in its July 27-Aug. 2, 1989 issue, Laris and Wood announced they were ceasing publication of the Altadena Weekly after just 16 issues. They continued to publish the Pasadena Weekly (PW).

Bill Evans took over as managing editor of PW in 1991. In 1992, PW became “The Alternative Voice of Pasadena, Glendale and the San Gabriel Valley” and launched several new columns. In January 1996, PW proclaimed itself “The Pasadena Paper People Actually Read,” a dig at the Star-News. In 1997, William Campbell served as editor and former editor Paula Johnson became associate publisher.

At the end of 1997, Laris put the paper up for sale. The last issue of PW to be published by Laris was on June 26, 1998. That month, Laris sold the paper to the Tribune Company’s LA Times, which added it to its Times Community News Division chain of newspapers.

The Times initially kept Campbell as editor, but soon made several staff changes. Judith Kendall, former publisher of the Glendale News-Press, was appointed publisher of PW, and Bill Lobdell, editor of the Costa Mesa/Newport Beach Daily Pilot, was appointed editor. Those two were soon replaced by Joe Pan as publisher and Mary Emerson as editor, who simultaneously edited the Times’ now-defunct San Gabriel Valley Edition. Both publications were based in PW’s current office at 50 S. DeLacey Ave. #200, Pasadena.

Kevin Uhrich was brought on as editor in 1999, a position he serves in to this day. He had previously worked as a reporter at the Simi Valley Enterprise and LA Daily News in the 1980s and the Pasadena Star-News, LA Times, LA Reader and LA Weekly in the 1990s. In 1994, Uhrich was banished from the Star-News after leading a union movement in the newsroom that rubbed management the wrong way.

Uhrich actually wrote his first story for PW on July 26, 1996, under the headline “Scathing Ruling Raises Questions in Kings Villages Case.” Under Uhrich’s stewardship, PW has become a truly progressive alternative newsweekly that actually breaks news and covers important stories that other local news outlets ignore. He has also mentored countless young reporters such as this author, who has written for PW since January 2005.

Free every Thursday

The Tribune Company sold PW to Southland Publishing in January 2001. Southland was founded in 1998 after converting from its former name Ventura Newspaper, Inc., which published the Ventura County Reporter, having purchased it from Nancy Cloutier in 1997. That company grew out of the Sylmar-based Valley Business Printers, owned by Michael Flannery, a conservative businessman who stayed out of editorial decisions of the decidedly left-leaning papers.

David Comden, who started out selling display ads for the San Diego Reader in 1983 and later served as general manager of the Sacramento News & Review, took over as publisher of VC Reporter in 1998 and eventually would become Southland’s vice president. Bruce Bolkin serves as Southland’s president.

Over the years, in addition to VC Reporter and PW, Southland would acquire San Diego Citybeat (previously SLAMM magazine), LA Citybeat/Valleybeat (defunct since 2009), the Argonaut, LA Downtown News (also owned by early PW owner Susan Laris) and others, as well as start monthly magazines Arroyo, Ventana, Verdugo and others.

Southland was able to survive while other alternative papers in Southern California died off in part because it has its own presses, a critical asset.

“The two greatest expenses for a newspaper are personnel and printing costs,” Comden told LA Weekly in 2003. Southland’s press printed LA Weekly for a while until it started its own LA paper in 2003: LA CityBeat/ValleyBeat.

Southland’s papers, including PW, are also unafraid to take a stand on controversial issues. In 2005, for example, PW became the first news outlet to call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. Uhrich told LA Weekly in 2003 that Comden “pushed [PW] to be edgier” after Southland took over the paper. What was once a “quasi-alternative” paper quickly became a true-blue alternative newsweekly that “frequently scoop[ed] the local dailies.”

“When [Comden] came in, in his first week,” Uhrich told LA Weekly, “he pulls me aside as he’s addressing the group, and says, ‘How come you guys don’t have editorials?’ I say, ‘Newspaper people don’t have opinions about things.’ And he says, ‘You better start getting opinions.’”

Publishers have come and gone during Uhrich’s 20-year reign of terror at PW, including Dale Tiffany, Jon Guynn and now Dina Stegon. Reporters Joe Piasecki and André Coleman were brought into the PW newsroom in 2001 and 2004, respectively, and both would eventually become deputy editors under Uhrich. Piasecki now serves as editor of Southland’s Argonaut. Rounding out the current staff is longtime arts editor Carl Kozlowski.

For the past two years, the Altadena Historical Society has been working on digitizing its extensive bound newspaper collection, including the many variations of this paper over the past 90 years.

Here’s to another 90 years for the weekly that’s free every Thursday.
Reporter's Notebook

Early and Often

Bernie Sanders, among five presidential candidates to stump for votes in Pasadena, is out to win California

On May 31, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary Julián Castro and Gov. Jay Inslee participated in the first presidential forum focused on immigration at the Pasadena Hilton. Sanders also held a political rally Friday at the Pasadena Convention Center, drawing a crowd of about 2,000 people including Pasadena City Councilmembers Tyron Hampton and Steve Madison. And New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s event May 30 at the Women’s City Club of Pasadena was sponsored by Women in Leadership Vital Voices and Lena Kennedy, sister of Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy.

Candidates are making sure to traverse California on their campaign trails because the state has moved its primary election date up from June to March 3, 2020. Conversely, during the 2016 campaign, when California’s June primary was one of the last, Sanders was the only presidential candidate to visit Pasadena.

“We are treating [California] like an early primary state,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir recently told NPR, “campaigning there early and often, and making a strong play to try and win that state.”

The primary election for the city of Pasadena will also be held March 3. The state essentially forced the city to hold its general election the same day as the presidential election on Nov. 3, 2020, in an effort to increase voter participation, which had fallen below 25 percent in Pasadena. The mayor and City Council districts 1, 2, 4 and 6 will be up for election. Several candidates have already declared their intention to run.

Feelin’ the Bern in Pasadena

Sanders’ visit to California followed his first trip to his home state of Vermont since he announced his candidacy, a series of ice cream socials in New Hampshire and a two-day swing through Nevada.

Sanders’ recently hired a fundraiser — a position that didn’t exist in his 2016 campaign — to oversee his new strategy of holding smaller, grassroots, in-person fundraising events for donors of all levels and the media.

Sanders was the first candidate to sign the grassroots, nonprofit Indivisible Project’s pledge calling on Democratic candidates to make the primary constructive, rally behind and immediately endorse the ultimate Democratic nominee no matter who it is and do everything in their power to make that nominee the next president.

Sanders’ wide-ranging speech at the Pasadena Convention Center touched on domestic policies such as income inequality, poverty, affordable housing, homelessness, jobs, voting rights, unions, legalized cannabis, women’s rights, abortion, education, child care, tuition-free college, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, climate change and the Green New Deal. He also touched on foreign policy, including his opposition to war.

Sanders went after President Trump’s economic message, saying American workers have been ignored. And he pointed out that in 2016, the media and political establishment called his ideas too radical, but that a majority of Americans now support them.

“Four years ago, we began the political revolution; this campaign we finalize the political revolution,” he said.

Sanders said he is often asked by his critics how he plans to pay for all his proposals.

“Ten years ago, the American people bailed out the crooks on Wall Street to the tune of $1 trillion. Well, Wall Street can now help the working families of this country. We will impose a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation.”

Sanders condemned states like Georgia and Alabama for passing “draconian” anti-abortion legislation.

“A woman’s right to control her own body is a constitutional right and we will defend that right,” he said. “I will never nominate anyone to the Supreme Court who is not prepared to vigorously support Roe v. Wade. This is an issue for everyone. Men must stand with women.”

He called out National Security Advisor John Bolton for helping lead the United States into war in Iraq in 2003 and warned that Bolton is now leading the charge to drag the country into war with Iran.

“Iraq was a disaster,” he said. “War with Iran will be worse. It will lead to perpetual warfare. Our kids, our grandchildren: never ending war. We must do everything we can to stop international conflicts through diplomatic means, not war.”

He pledged to rally world leaders to cut military spending and use that money to combat climate change.

“Think about a world where instead of building more nuclear weapons, poison gas, tanks and guns,” he said, “China, Russia, India, Latin America, Africa and the United States are coming together to say, ‘We are going to save this planet for our children and our grandchildren.’”

Sanders attacked Trump and vowed to defeat the “most dangerous president in American history.”

A Focus on Immigration

After his Pasadena rally, Sanders and three other presidential candidates — Harris, Castro and Inslee — discussed their plans for immigration reform at the Unity + Freedom Forum at the Pasadena Hilton.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti also spoke at the event, which was not open to the public, but more than 500 grassroots leaders and immigrant-rights advocates from across the nation were in attendance. About 7.1 million people watched Telemundo’s livestream of the event. Two moderators and several immigrants told their stories and asked questions of the candidates.

Harris claimed that there is bipartisan support for immigration reform on Capitol Hill and pledged to work on a bipartisan solution.

“Most Americans are acutely aware of the economic benefit to this country of having immigrants,” she said. “Farmers across the country, some of whom may have even voted for this president, understand that the strength of their farms and their continued success is in large part because of an immigrant workforce.”

Using executive orders, Harris said she would immediately reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), restore Temporary Protected Status protections and enact a moratorium on migrant detention facilities, as well as undo the Trump administration’s other “backward, hate-drive policies.” She said the administration’s child separation policy is not border security but rather a human rights abuse committed by the US government.

“Every day that we don’t resolve this issue there are real consequences to real human beings,” she said. “We need a president who understands the complexity of this issue.”

Castro described specific policy proposals he would enact if elected and said immigration has to be a top priority for the next president.

“On April 2, I released my very comprehensive and progressive ‘People First’ immigration plan, which includes decriminalizing border crossings and treating them as a civil offense, ending family detention, reuniting families, improving the legal immigration system, reinstating DACA and implementing a pathway to citizenship for DACA parents, increasing refugee admissions, eliminating for-profit migrant detention facilities, stopping the border wall, adding the number of visas to harness talent from around the world and getting rid of 287(g).”

Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deputize state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Sanders called Trump a racist and pledged to establish a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.


Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Julián Castro, Jay Inslee and Kirsten Gillibrand campaign in Pasadena

Story by Justin Chapman | Photos by Mercedes Blackehart | LA Progressive | 6/6/2019

[A different version of this story was published in Pasadena Weekly.]

The 2020 hustings have officially arrived in Pasadena.

On Friday, Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sec. Julián Castro and Gov. Jay Inslee participated in the first presidential forum focused on immigration at the Pasadena Hilton. All four are among the 23 Democrats – so far – running to replace Donald Trump as president next year.

Sanders also held a political rally Friday at the Pasadena Convention Center, drawing a crowd of about 2,000 people including Pasadena City Councilmembers Tyron Hampton and Steve Madison. And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, also a presidential candidate, spoke at a private event on May 30 at the Women’s City Club of Pasadena.



Former Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, both presidential candidates, are finalizing plans to stump in Pasadena soon, as well.

Part of the reason candidates are making sure to traverse California on their campaign trail is because the state has moved its primary election date up from June to March 3, 2020, also known as Super Tuesday. The earlier date – after only Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – will ensure that California voters and the state’s nearly 500 delegates play a decisive role in determining the eventual nominee, who will be coronated at the Democratic National Convention in July 2020 in Milwaukee.

Conversely, during the 2016 campaign, when California’s June primary was one of the last, Sanders was the only presidential candidate to visit Pasadena.

“We are treating [California] like an early primary state,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir recently told NPR, “campaigning there early and often, and making a strong play to try and win that state.”

Out of 23 candidates, Sanders comes in second place in most polls, behind only Biden, though the difference is by double digits.

Feelin’ the Bern in Pasadena

Actor Danny DeVito and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Ben Cohen introduced Sanders at his rally at the Pasadena Convention Center. His wide-ranging speech touched on domestic policies such as income inequality, poverty, affordable housing, homelessness, jobs, voting rights, unions, legalized cannabis, women’s rights, abortion, education, child care, tuition-free college, criminal justice reform, immigration, health care, climate change and the Green New Deal. He also touched on foreign policy including his opposition to war.


“In 2016, we got more votes here in California than anywhere else in America,” said Sanders. “I don’t want to get my opponents nervous, but we’re going to win California and the Democratic nomination.”

Sanders went after Trump’s economic message, saying American workers have been ignored. And he pointed out that in 2016, the media and political establishment called his ideas too radical, but that a majority of Americans now support them.

“Four years ago, we began the political revolution; this campaign we finalize the political revolution,” he said. “We are taking on Wall Street and will break up the large financial institutions that have wreaked havoc on this economy. We’re taking on the drug companies and will cut the cost of prescription drugs by half. We’re taking on the insurance companies and we will – whether they like it or not – bring a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program to America.”


He said he is often asked by his critics how he plans to pay for all his proposals.

“I will tell you how,” he said. “Ten years ago, the American people bailed out the crooks on Wall Street to the tune of $1 trillion. Well, Wall Street can now help the working families of this country. We will impose a transaction tax on Wall Street speculation.”

He pledged to end gerrymandering and voter suppression that he accused Republicans of engineering across the country.

“In a democracy, we believe we should make it as easy as possible for people to participate, not harder,” he said. “We want America to have the highest voter turnout of any major country, not one of the lowest.”

He condemned states like Georgia and Alabama for passing “draconian” anti-abortion legislation.

“A woman’s right to control her own body is a constitutional right and we will defend that right,” he said. “I will never nominate anyone to the Supreme Court who is not prepared to vigorously support Roe v. Wade. This is an issue for everyone. Men must stand with women.”

He called out National Security Advisor John Bolton for helping lead the United States into war in Iraq in 2003 and warned that Bolton is now leading the charge to drag the country into war with Iran.

“Iraq was a disaster,” he said. “War with Iran will be worse. It will lead to perpetual warfare. Our kids, our grandchildren: never ending war. We must do everything we can to stop international conflicts through diplomatic means, not war.”

He pledged to rally world leaders to cut military spending and use that money to combat climate change.

“Think about a world where instead of building more nuclear weapons, poison gas, tanks and guns,” he said, “China, Russia, India, Latin America, Africa and the United States are coming together to say, ‘We are going to save this planet for our children and our grandchildren.’”


Sanders attacked Trump and vowed to defeat the “most dangerous president in American history.”

“The underlying principles of our government will not be greed, kleptocracy, hatred, lies, racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia or religious bigotry,” Sanders said. “We have news for Donald Trump: we are going to end those ugly practices when we are in the White House. The principles of our government will be economic justice, racial justice, social justice and environmental justice.”

Sanders changed his position on impeachment a day before his Pasadena rally, following Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s press conference last week in which he said Justice Department policy prohibited his investigation from considering charging the president with obstruction of justice but would have said Trump did not commit a crime if the evidence so established. Sanders now believes impeachment inquiries must begin, making him the 10th major Democratic presidential candidate to call for them.

A Focus on Immigration

One block away from the Convention Center, Rep. Judy Chu (D-27), whose district includes most of Pasadena, delivered introductory remarks at the immigration forum at the Pasadena Hilton. The event, titled the Unity + Freedom Forum, was hosted by FIRM Action, Community Change Action and CHIRLA Action Fund.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti also spoke at the event, which was not open to the public, but more than 500 grassroots leaders and immigrant-rights advocates from across the nation were in attendance. About 7.1 million people watched Telemundo’s livestream of the event.


All four candidates who participated – Harris, Sanders, Castro and Inslee – pledged to enact comprehensive immigration reform and revoke Trump’s Muslim travel ban during their first 100 days in office, in addition to other progressive immigration policies.

Harris, who formerly served as California attorney general, said the fight for immigration reform will not be easy, but that it’s “a fight worth having, and I promise you we will win this fight.”


Using executive orders, Harris said she would immediately reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), restore Temporary Protected Status protections and enact a moratorium on migrant detention facilities, as well as undo the Trump administration’s other “backward, hate-drive policies.” She said the administration’s child separation policy is not border security but rather a human rights abuse committed by the U.S. government.

“Every day that we don’t resolve this issue, there are real consequences to real human beings,” she said. “We need a president who understands the complexity of this issue.”




Castro, who formerly served as Obama’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary, described specific policy proposals he would enact if elected president. His twin brother Joaquin, a congressional representative from Texas, was also in attendance.

“On April 2, I released my very comprehensive and progressive ‘People First’ immigration plan, which includes decriminalizing border crossings and treating them as a civil offense, ending family detention, reuniting families, improving the legal immigration system, reinstating DACA and implementing a pathway to citizenship for DACA parents, increasing refugee admissions, eliminating for-profit migrant detention facilities, stopping the border wall, adding the number of visas to harness talent from around the world and getting rid of 287(g).”


Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to deputize state and local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.

Castro called for a “21st century Marshall Plan” for Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

“We need a president who’s not going to look down on these countries but work as a peer in a mutually beneficial way to ensure that people can find safety and opportunity in their home country, instead of having to come here to the United States,” he said. “At the same time, the truth is we need a lot of the folks who are coming to the United States right now, because they add vitality to our country. It would be economic suicide not to have them, because we have a declining birth rate and an aging population. We need a young, vibrant workforce. We need immigrants.”


Sanders called Trump a racist and pledged to establish a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.



Inslee, governor of Washington state who is running as a climate change candidate, said he would increase foreign aid to Central American countries, end family separations at the border, give asylum seekers hearings in a reasonable time period and increase the number of refugees – including those displaced by climate change – accepted into the United States to 110,000 per year.



After Pasadena, Sanders, Harris, Castro, Inslee, Gillibrand and nine other candidates traveled to San Francisco for the California Democratic Party Convention, which was the largest gathering of 2020 presidential contenders thus far until the first official Democratic debate will be hosted by MSNBC on June 26-27 in Miami.

'Housing first'

Homelessness declines in Pasadena thanks to focus on providing short- and long-term housing

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 5/30/2019

The number of homeless individuals in Pasadena decreased by 20 percent this year compared to 2018, according to the 2019 Homeless Count Report released on May 20 by the city of Pasadena’s Housing Department, the Pasadena Partnership to End Homelessness and Urban Initiatives.

The annual count is a one-night snapshot of those living in unsheltered locations and temporary shelters. This year’s count was conducted on the evening of Jan. 22 into the early morning of Jan. 23, 2019, and tallied 542 people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena, compared to 677 in 2018. That makes 2019 the second lowest year since the count began in 1992, after only 2016, when 530 people were counted.

Homelessness in Pasadena has generally been on a decline since 2011, when 1,216 people were counted (except for an uptick the last two years). In 2011, the city and homeless services providers implemented a new approach: housing first, as opposed to clearing up personal issues and then being placed into a home. And city officials and homeless advocates say that approach is highly successful.

“Permanent supportive housing is the only thing that ends homelessness,” said William Huang, the city’s housing director, during a panel on homelessness at the West Pasadena Residents’ Association’s annual meeting on May 8.

Officer Donovan Jones of the Pasadena Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Psychiatric Evaluation (HOPE) team and Shawn Morrissey, Union Station Homeless Service’s director of advocacy and community engagement, also served on the panel.

The Solution

“It took us over 40 years to figure out that the solution for homelessness is an actual home, but we finally did and that’s where our effort is now: to get people into housing,” said Morrissey. “During the early periods of homeless services, all we had to offer people were shelters. We didn’t have housing solutions, just temporary solutions. We became dependent on the massive shelter system we built in LA.”

Morrissey, originally from Montreal, had been homeless himself for a long time starting in his late 30s when he “washed up in Pasadena” in 2002, as he put it. He was an opiate addict from age 12 to 40, but after he received support and housing from Union Station, he was able to turn his life around.

“I showed up with two black eyes, my head was split open, I had no underwear and I was wearing one contact and it wasn’t even mine,” said Morrissey. “You’d see me on the street, I’d be wild-eyed, wild-haired. My success is a result of these types of services and community that wrapped around me. As soon as people get into housing, they’re no longer homeless.”

He said that it’s very challenging to provide services for people while they’re living on the street, but getting a roof over their head and four walls around them has a stabilizing effect and allows them to attend to many of the issues that led to their homelessness to begin with.

“Not only is permanent supportive housing humane and the right thing to do, it has a huge cost savings and helps both the individual and the community,” Morrissey said. “It’s actually $15,000 to $20,000 cheaper to help someone get into permanent supportive housing than it is to walk by them on the street.”

The city’s strategies to address homelessness include funding and working with partners that provide basic homeless services, rapid rehousing, permanent supportive housing and targeted homeless prevention.

Rapid rehousing is short-term assistance for people who are not chronically homeless — those with a disabling condition who have been homeless for more than a year — but recently became homeless for economic reasons.

“We’re seeing people becoming homeless for the first time in their lives,” said Huang. “A lot of them are being priced out of their homes through raised rents, or low-income retired people.”

Permanent supportive housing is typically an apartment unit for those considered chronically homeless. Huang said there is a misperception among the public that the development of more permanent supportive housing in their neighborhood will cause crime rates to go up and property values to go down.

“The safety level is actually enhanced because the person who is housed and is now stable is far less likely to commit crimes,” he said. “Barbara King, a local realtor, looked at property values around the three permanent supportive housing developments we have in Pasadena and found that nobody’s property values went down because the supportive housing developments were well designed and well maintained.”

However, just because officials now know housing is the solution doesn’t mean they have enough housing available.

“There’s a real bottleneck to building more housing,” said Huang. “There’s also a disincentive for landlords even with rental vouchers, because it’s simpler and they get more money when they rent units out at market rate. We need to get more units, either by building them or through willing landlords. It’s a big ask, we realize that, so we do have financial incentives for them if they’re willing to do it.”

Huang said the good news is that the city will be receiving new homeless funding soon from the county and the state. They plan to use that money to get more rapid and supportive housing, hire more housing navigators and case managers, expand prevention efforts, enhance landlord incentives, distribute more motel vouchers and provide more job development.

Pay It Forward

In 2011, homeless advocates in Pasadena launched the inaugural “Housing First” initiative called Project House Pasadena, aimed at housing the 20 most vulnerable and severely chronically homeless individuals — those at risk of dying within a year if they stayed on the streets. One of those 20 people was Dorothy Edwards.

Edwards was born in Monrovia and grew up in Hacienda Heights. After moving from program to program trying to get off drugs, she became homeless in Pasadena, partly to escape a domestic violence situation. She lived with her dog Gunner on the embankment of the Foothill (210) Freeway behind Target in east Pasadena and on a sofa in the donations area of Goodwill on Altadena Drive and Foothill Boulevard, among other places.

Morrissey and others made several attempts to contact Edwards to give her a housing voucher but she hid from them. Seven years ago, Morrissey caught up with her, made a connection, built trust and convinced her to give supportive housing a try. After using cocaine, meth and heroin intravenously for 24 years, she has now been sober for several years and helps others in the position she used to be in. She said housing and employment were the turning point for her.

Edwards went through an advocacy training program at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), a community development financial institution that empowers those with lived experiences to speak about homelessness to policymakers. She now sits on CSH’s national board of directors and works at Housing Works as an enrichment services coordinator in a 54-unit supportive services and special needs building in Eagle Rock.

“When you’re homeless for a long time you feel like you’re less than and not enough, but Bill Huang and Shawn Morrissey always made me feel welcome,” said Edwards. “I’m really a stronger person today because of all the encouragement I had. It’s important what I’m doing, my voice is important and I know in my heart that I’ve found my passion. Now I want to pay it forward and help those who are still on the street.”

Morrissey said they’ve housed hundreds of people in the past few years with a 97 percent retention rate.

Work to Do

While the 2019 Homeless Count Report found that progress has been made among key subpopulations such as youth, veterans and families with children, it also found that more people are experiencing chronic homelessness, accounting for 50 percent of the total homeless population.

Additionally, 58 percent of those counted were Pasadena residents before they became homeless and only 5 percent first became homeless outside of LA County or out of state, “largely refuting the misconception that people experiencing homelessness travel from other areas and across the nation,” reads the report.

The homeless population is also aging. The data reveal that three in 10 people experiencing homelessness in Pasadena are aged 55 years or older. There were 23 families with children experiencing homelessness in Pasadena, but there were no unsheltered families with children on the night of the count, compared to eight families in 2018.

Huang identified several things anyone can do to help homeless individuals: refer them to services through websites like LA-HOP.org; get educated by reading the Homeless Count Report; donate to the nine orange parking meters around the city that are part of the Real Change Movement designed by ArtCenter College of Design; engage landlords to consider renting units to homeless individuals; and volunteer with organizations that serve the homeless such as Union Station, Friends in Deed, Foothill Unity Center and many others.

“We’re never going to end this problem, but Pasadena is uniquely positioned to ostensibly end this problem as it exists today with the political will, the infrastructure, and the robust services that we have,” said Morrissey. “What’s really going to turn the tide is getting the appropriate information out to the community in order to tear down some of these myths and stigmas and help people see there really is a solution here: developing or making housing available for people.” 

First Justice, Now Peace

Joan Williams, Miss Crown City 1958 who was denied a place in the Rose Parade due to her race, has died

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 2/28/2019

Joan Williams, whose story of racial reconciliation inspired the nation, passed away from ovarian cancer on Feb. 20 at her home near the Rose Bowl. She was 86.

More than a half-century after she was discriminated against by city officials in 1958 and denied a ride in the Rose Parade because she was African American, the Pasadena Weekly reported on her story and she finally rode in the parade in 2015.

Pasadena City Councilman John Kennedy invited Williams’ children Angela Williams, Robyn Wood and Robert “Chip” Williams to say a few words about their mother at Monday’s City Council meeting. The council adjourned the meeting in her honor.

“Joan Williams was a proud, resolute, kind, loving, contemplative person who did not seek attention, who let the story of her disrespect remain untold for many years because she was not seeking personal attention,” Kennedy told the Weekly. “However, for the greater good, and to help build ‘one Pasadena,’ she allowed [the Weekly] to bring a light to her story, part of the Pasadena story, part of the American story.”

“I am saddened to hear the news of her passing but feel relief that the city of Pasadena was able to right a past wrong and give her Roses while she was still alive,” said former Council member Jacque Robinson.

‘Righting that Wrong’

In 1958, then-26-year-old Williams was nominated by her co-workers at City Hall to represent Pasadena as Miss Crown City, which was a Rose Queen-esque honor at the time. She was also the first African American hired to work at City Hall, albeit inadvertently, in what was then known as the Municipal Light and Power Department.

Williams was “selected from a field of seven finalists by a committee of judges from newspapers and the Tournament of Roses Association,” according to an Aug. 3, 1958, article in the Independent Star News.

In her capacity as Miss Crown City 1958, she was scheduled to ride on the city’s float in the Jan. 1, 1959, Rose Parade, but was denied the honor after city officials discovered the light complexioned Williams was African American and canceled the float. Then-Pasadena Mayor Seth Miller, who had crowned Williams at a coronation ceremony, later refused to take a photo with her at the annual city employees’ picnic at Brookside Park, and she was also not allowed to cut the grand opening ribbons at Sears, J.W. Robinson and other businesses. Her City Hall coworkers and bosses ostracized her until she left the job.

Inr 2013, this reporter interviewed Williams about her experience for an article in the Pasadena Weekly, the first time her story was told. On April 5, 2014, the local nonprofit Men Educating Men About Health (MEMAH) honored Williams at a gala at the Western Justice Center. During that event, Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) presented an award to Williams. City Council members Steve Madison, Terry Tornek, Robinson and Kennedy were also in attendance, and they later directed city staff to investigate her story. Madison was the first city official to apologize for the 1958 incident “on behalf of my forebears,” he told her.

In May 2014, Robinson, who was vice mayor at the time, called on the city to officially apologize and offered Williams the opportunity to ride in the parade with her in a car. In October 2014, then-Mayor Bill Bogaard and then-Tournament of Roses Executive Director Bill Flinn took Williams to lunch and offered her a spot on a float in the upcoming parade.

“She had put the ugliness of [the 1958 incident] behind her, so when she was contacted to ride on a float in the 2015 parade she wasn’t sure she wanted to do it because it was like opening up a door that she had closed,” Williams’ son Chip told the Weekly. “But she realized that it meant a lot to the community and would allow for healing, so she felt it was important to ride on the float so that there would be reconciliation.”

Williams told the Weekly that before accepting the offer to ride on a float, she wanted to make sure it wasn’t sponsored by an organization that espoused homophobia in any way.

Pasadena Weekly again wrote about her story on Dec. 24, 2014, after which dozens of local, national and international media outlets picked it up.

On New Year’s Eve 2014, Bogaard delivered a formal letter of apology to Williams on behalf of the city written on the mayor’s official letterhead.

“I am truly pleased that you will be in the parade this year, and I am extremely sorry that this opportunity was not made available to you in 1958,” Bogaard wrote. “You have kindly said that the Tournament’s invitation to you represents a new commitment in Pasadena to our efforts to embrace differences and welcome all members of the community. I share that view with you. As Mayor, I hereby apologize to you for the experience you had as Miss Crown City in 1958 and I thank you for accepting this year’s invitation and for the friendship you have expressed for Pasadena.”

Just before riding in the parade, Williams told the Weekly that she was “delighted and really appreciate that the city recognized that they needed to make some kind of gesture towards righting that wrong. Pasadena has shown the community that they’re on the right path and that they’re recognizing these things and that it’s something they need to follow through on.”

On Jan. 1, 2015, nearly six decades after being discriminated against by Pasadena city officials for being black, Joan Williams finally got to ride in the 126th Rose Parade in the lead theme banner float. The apt theme that year was “Inspiring Stories.”

“To be on that float is especially important because it will point out that with people of good will working to correct these mistakes, change can come,” said Williams. “We hope it won’t take so long, but when you look at our history, none of it has happened overnight, none of it has happened without a fight. The fight goes on.”

Chip said she was “happy to represent the community and have that closure.”

‘To the Betterment of Pasadena’

After riding in the parade, Williams told the Weekly that the most important thing to her was the community showing her kindness and appreciation along the route. She heard from people all across the country who were excited to tune in and watch Miss Crown City finally riding in the parade. KTLA, however, did not mention her in their televised broadcast of the parade.

In the months that followed the parade, several organizations and local and state officials, such as then-LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich and state Assembly member Chris Holden, honored Williams.

“Joan Williams was the model of poise and grace,” Holden wrote in a text message to the Weekly. “Several years ago, I honored her on the Assembly floor during Black History Month as an unsung hero in recognition of her contribution to the advancement of civil rights. As a result of her courage in calling out racial discrimination in the early years of the Tournament of Roses, her contributions to the betterment of Pasadena will not be forgotten.”

Jim Morris, executive director of MEMAH, the organization that originally honored her in 2014, said he is “saddened that Joan has left us but happy that she lived long enough to get the justice that was due to her.”

‘A Mother Figure in the Community’

Williams graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1950. She attended Wolfe’s School of Costume Design by day and took general studies courses at Los Angeles City College by night. She saw Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver a sermon on February 28, 1960, at Friendship Baptist Church in Pasadena, in which he talked about the Montgomery bus boycott and the foundations of a meaningful life.

In 1952, she married Capt. Robert W. Williams, who was one of the original “Tuskegee Airmen” fighter pilots in World War II whose story helped inspire the movie of the same name starring Laurence Fishburne. Robert also co-wrote and co-executive produced the film, which was released by HBO in 1995 and won a Peabody Award and three Emmy Awards.

Joan and Robert were married for 45 years when he died from prostate cancer in 1997. They met when Robert returned home after the war and enrolled at UCLA. They enjoyed golfing at Brookside Park and dancing to jazz music. Her favorite was Ella Fitzgerald. She also designed her own clothing.

Williams said she and her husband encountered racism from realtors when they tried to purchase a home in the San Fernando Valley, so they built their own house in 1963 on Arroyo Boulevard overlooking the Rose Bowl in the Arroyo Seco using African American architects, designers and contractors. That year, she started working at Kaiser Permanente as a receptionist, where she worked for 32 years, including five years in a Medicare office in Kaiser’s regional office on Walnut Street.

“My mother was a graceful, elegant and caring woman,” said Chip. “My mother’s and father’s open arms and open hearts welcomed people from all over the world into their home. Many of my gay friends felt that where their parents didn’t accept them, they found a surrogate mother in my mother who did accept them. She was a mother figure to many people in our community.”

Chip added that his mother was very involved in her community, including by advocating for proper street lighting and equitable distribution of Rose Bowl event traffic. She served as treasurer and financial secretary of the Pasadena-Altadena chapter of an African American women’s service sorority called the Links. In that capacity, she also organized a Saturday school for students in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) who needed support with reading and math, and served as the school’s director for two years.

After retiring in 1994 from Kaiser, she volunteered at the Pasadena AIDS Service Center, read to PUSD students and participated in Leadership Pasadena.

Joan Williams is survived by three children, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. Her family is currently planning a memorial.

Outnumbered and irrelevant

Supporters of 2019 Rose Queen drown out Westboro Baptist Church picketers with messages of love

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 2/28/2019

Westboro Baptist Church protesters arrived in Pasadena with a whimper Monday morning. 

A half-dozen or so members of the anti-gay, anti-Semitic, Kansas-based church picketed on the sidewalk outside Pasadena’s Sequoyah High School, located on the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church campus on Orange Grove Boulevard.

On its website, Westboro said they were targeting Sequoyah because the 2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel wrote a column in the Los Angeles Times on New Year’s Eve coming out as bisexual. The column also noted that she is Jewish and a senior at Sequoyah.

The Westboro picketers, including Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of the late church founder Fred Phelps, were outnumbered by dozens of counter-protesters in several clusters on and around the campus and in the Rose Bowl parking lot about a mile down the road.

“Today we met hate and venom with love and compassion,” Jessica Gable, communications coordinator at Neighborhood Church, told the Pasadena Weekly. “Members of our community, as well as the Pasadena community at large, surrounded the Sequoyah students with support and messages of kindness. We are thrilled at the triumph of inclusion that we witnessed today.”

Several Pasadena police officers and private security were on the scene, as was Siskel, who was surrounded by supporters. Westboro picketers held signs with offensive — and mostly irrelevant — slogans, such as “God sent the shooter” and “God hates Christ-rejecting, apostate Jews.”

Siskel’s supporters held up rainbow banners and signs with slogans such as “Love > Hate,” “I love my trans son,” “Love lives here,” “My God loves all and so do we” and “Blessed to be LGBT,” among many others.

On Sunday, Neighborhood Church Social Justice and Inclusion staff and LGBTQ community organizers hosted a peace training and poster-making workshop. The fruits of their labor were posted around the campus and written in chalk on the sidewalk, featuring messages of love and acceptance.

The protest lasted less than half an hour and ended without incident. Last week, Neighborhood Church officials said they were discouraging people from engaging with Westboro protesters.
'Rise Above'

Anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket Monday at Pasadena school attended by LGBTQ Rose Queen

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 2/21/2019

Members of anti-gay and anti-Semitic Westboro Baptist Church have targeted openly bisexual 2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel and are expected to picket Monday morning at her high school.

According to the church’s website, godhatesfags.com, members of the Kansas-based congregation will picket from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m. at Sequoyah High School, located on the campus of Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in west Pasadena. The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Westboro as “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.”

“That poor child has been so saturated in filthiness that she bragged about being a pervert of the deepest waters (‘the first LGBTQ queen’), honoring what God has called abominable. Uh-oh, that calls for preaching!” a press release on the church’s website states.

In a column published in the Los Angeles Times on New Year’s Eve, Siskel came out as bisexual and noted that she is Jewish.

“[I]n this new, very public position, I feel it’s important to present myself authentically, especially to those who look to the Royal Court as a representation of our community,” wrote Siskel, who could not be reached for comment. “While I am almost certainly not the first member of the LGBTQ community on the court, I hope that by saying so publicly, I might encourage others to be proud of who they are.”

Westboro followers are best known for demonstrating at funerals of gay people, service members and victims of national tragedies such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Westboro’s website claims the church has picketed 63,534 times in 1,033 cities across the country. Church officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Westboro’s messages are “extremely offensive and inflammatory,” Neighborhood Church officials wrote on their Facebook page. “While Sequoyah has been advised not to engage with picketers, we are planning a peaceful response on our campus to counter their hateful rhetoric with a message of love, LGBTQ welcome and interfaith solidarity.”

The Rev. Lissa Anne Gundlach, senior minister at Neighborhood Church, wrote in a public Facebook group on Pasadena politics that she is calling on “our community [to] come together to rise above this hate group.”

Members of the public Facebook group also wrote that Pasadena police suggested that people refrain from counter-protesting Westboro because of the proximity of young children. The Fair Oaks Preschool is located on the same campus. They also wrote that police will be standing by and security will be present. Gundlach recommended that parents drop off their children earlier than 7:45 a.m. or later than 8:15 a.m. to avoid the Westboro picketers.

“Maintaining a safe, healthy environment for the students is our top priority. Therefore, we ask that
you refrain from demonstrating on Monday,” Gundlach wrote in a press release. “If you would like to participate as a peacekeeper in our nonviolent response, please join us on Sunday for a training and poster-making workshop conducted by the Neighborhood Church Social Justice and Inclusion staff and LGBTQ+ Community Organizers. The workshop will be a safe space for Neighborhood Church members, Sequoyah faculty and students, and the San Gabriel Valley community at large.”

A Peacekeeping Training and Poster Making Workshop will be from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday on Neighborhood House Front Porch. Registration is requested: bit.ly/nuuclove. For more information, contact church Social Justice and Inclusion Coordinator Luis Sierra Campos at Lcampos@neighborhooduu.org or call (626) 449.3470 Ext. 18.

In an email exchange with a concerned resident, Pasadena Police Chief John Perez described Westboro as “peaceful and cooperative” based on previous encounters with the group. He wrote that they expect “a very loud group of 15 people or so — likely not much more.”

He added that police will “plan for contingencies and keep the view of the police to a minimum to avoid any issues. Our strategy is to get groups in and out and have PPD resources organized to quickly respond as needed.”

Westboro Baptist Church was founded in 1955 by pastor Fred Phelps as an offshoot of the East Side Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

Phelps, who died in 2014, attended and received an associate degree from Pasadena’s John Muir College in the late 1940s and early 50s before it merged with Pasadena Junior College to become what is now Pasadena City College.

A June 11, 1951, an article in TIME Magazine reported that 21-year-old Phelps preached to fellow students about their sins, including “promiscuous petting, evil language, profanity, cheating, teachers’ filthy jokes in classrooms and pandering to the lusts of the flesh.”

According to the LA Times, Phelps met his wife at the Arizona Bible Institute and they moved to Kansas in 1954. Westboro’s congregation is “heavily composed of his relatives, including many of his 13 children and 54 grandchildren.” It holds a hyper-Calvinist worldview, although it is not technically affiliated with a specific denomination of Christianity.

Phelps was born in Mississippi in 1929 and ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1947. He was also an attorney who argued civil rights cases but was disbarred in Kansas in 1979 for harassing a witness on the stand and calling her a “slut.”

Phelps and his congregants began their picketing campaigns in 1991. In 1998, they became infamous after they picketed at the funeral of 21-year-old Matthew Shepard, who was beaten and killed because he was gay.

In 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled that demonstrations such as Westboro’s picketing of the 2006 funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq, “no matter how odious, were legal as long as protesters obeyed state and local laws setting a minimum distance between themselves and mourners,” according to the Times.

Pasadena Police Lt. Jason Clawson, adjutant to Perez, wrote in an email to the Pasadena Weekly that Westboro does not need a permit to hold their protest because of their First Amendment rights.

“The city is aware of the protest as Westboro reached out to the PPD,” he wrote, adding that the department is not aware of plans for a counter protest.

_______________________________________

Pride USA's response: https://lgbt.10ztalk.com/2019/02/23/westboro-baptist-church-to-protest-high-school-attended-by-bisexual-rose-queen/

All Saints Church's response: https://allsaints-pas.org/when-hate-comes-to-town/

A complicated legacy

Former FBI Director James Comey discusses his firing, the Russia investigation and why Americans must vote Trump out of office

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 2/14/2019

The United States is in sore need of ethical leadership, former FBI director James Comey said Monday during a talk at the Ambassador Auditorium in West Pasadena as part of the 23rd season of the Distinguished Speaker Series.

“We must make sure good follows bad,” said Comey before an audience of more than 1,200 people. “I’m so worried that the picture of leadership today — not just in our national government, although that’s deeply concerning to me without regard to policy differences but in terms of values — but also in sports, entertainment, religious institutions, nonprofit organizations and corporations. The vision of leadership is so unethical that I worry people are going to say, ‘That’s just the way it is’ and especially young people will just step away from it, and then we’re going to be deeply sorry.”

His wide-ranging remarks covered his hiring by President Obama (who he said is the best listener he’s ever met), his firing by President Trump (which he said was tacky and tasteless), the death of his 9-day-old son Collin, his role in the Russia investigation, Trump’s request for loyalty from him and how important kindness, toughness, confidence, humility, humor and listening are to ethical leadership.

“Trump doesn’t know anything about leadership,” Comey said. “I’ve never ever heard Trump laugh. It is a deeply concerning absence and a sign of insecurity in a leader. And to tell that man important stuff you almost always have to interrupt him. He’s a deeply insecure person.”

In 2013, President Obama appointed Comey as the seventh director of the FBI, succeeding Robert S. Mueller III, who now serves as the special counsel investigating whether there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed justice of that investigation. Mueller was appointed on May 17, 2017, shortly after Comey was unceremoniously fired by Trump.

Difficult Circumstances

Before leading the FBI, Comey served as counsel for private law firms, Lockheed Martin and Bridgewater Associates. He also served as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft in the Bush II administration.

Comey has a complicated legacy. His actions as FBI director during the 2016 election left both Democrats and Republicans upset with him. On July 5, 2016, he unexpectedly went around Justice Department leadership and recommended that no criminal charges should be brought against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State but added that she had been “extremely careless.”

On October 28, 2016, just days before the election, Comey announced that the FBI had found new Clinton emails and was reopening the investigation. The emails turned out to be duplicates, but the damage was done. Meanwhile, Comey kept silent on the fact that Trump and his associates were being investigated by the FBI for their potentially criminal interactions with Russians, seen by some as a double standard on Comey’s part. On Monday, Comey said he regrets having to be a part of that process, but thinks he made the right decisions under difficult circumstances.

“I don’t know [if my actions helped elect Trump],” he said. “I really, really, really hope not. But it doesn’t change how I think about my decision—it just increases the pain. The FBI wasn’t on anybody’s side and it also wasn’t out to get Trump.”

‘I Expect Loyalty’

On Jan. 27, 2017, Trump invited Comey to dinner at the White House, an unusual situation for a president and an FBI director. Comey wrote in his book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” that the move made him feel uncomfortable because “the president of the United States had invited me to dinner and decided my job security was on the menu.” He said that Trump told him, “I need loyalty [from you]. I expect loyalty.” The request reminded Comey of tactics employed by Cosa Nostra bosses, whom he helped prosecute in the 1990s.

“A real leader never asks for loyalty,” Comey said in Pasadena. “All they do is give.”

Trump also told Comey he hoped the FBI would let go of the investigation against his then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak in December 2016, during the transition. It was then that Flynn told the Russians not to overreact to Obama’s sanctions as punishment for meddling in the election because Trump would soon be president and overturn them.

Flynn was fired in February 2017 and soon began cooperating with Mueller. Former New Jersey Governor and Trump supporter Chris Christie wrote in a new book that Trump and his son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner naïvely believed firing Flynn would end the Russia investigation.

Because Comey declined to admit publicly that Trump was not personally under investigation at the time, Trump fired Comey on May 9, 2017. Comey learned about his dismissal by seeing a headline on TV as the director was speaking to FBI agents at a field office in Los Angeles. He said in Pasadena on Monday that he felt both numb and stunned.

The White House’s official line was that Comey was fired because of the way he mishandled the Clinton email investigation, citing a memo written by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. But one day after firing Comey, Trump invited Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov into the Oval Office at the White House, where he told them, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

And during a televised interview with NBC’s Lester Holt two days after firing Comey, Trump said, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.’” Trump later claimed Holt doctored the footage of that interview.

Trump also said he would have fired Comey whether or not Rosenstein wrote that justification memo, and in an upcoming book by former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was also fired under pressure from Trump just hours before he would be eligible for retirement benefits, McCabe wrote that Trump ordered Rosenstein to write that memo against his wishes.

‘Shameful’ Attacks

Trump has called Comey an “untruthful slime ball” and a “showboat.” Comey’s “aww shucks” demeanor strikes some as genuine and others as not so much. After Comey had a friend deliver the contemporaneous memos he wrote after his awkward meetings with Trump to the media, Trump tweeted, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” When questioned during a congressional hearing about the existence of such tapes, Comey said, “Lordy, I hope there are tapes.”

A lifelong Republican, Comey has since his firing turned his ire on Trump and congressional Republicans. The latter have hauled Comey before Congress several times in the past two years. After the most recent hearings in December, Comey tweeted that it “wasn’t a search for truth, but a desperate attempt to find anything that can be used to attack the institutions of justice investigating this president. They came up empty today but will try again. In the long run, it’ll make no difference because facts are stubborn things.”

Comey told reporters that Republicans were “talking again about Hillary Clinton’s emails, for heaven’s sake,” and called Republicans’ silence in the face of Trump’s attacks on the FBI and other US institutions “shameful.”

“I’ve been a Republican most of my adult life,” he said in Pasadena. “What I say to my Republican colleagues is, imagine the next president’s a Democrat and she starts calling for the jailing of private citizens, attacking the intelligence agencies and the FBI and calling for criminal investigations of her political opponents. What’s your reaction going to be? Your head’s going to explode. So why is it not exploding now? This is about America’s values. I get why Donald Trump is doing it; in a way, it’s kind of his thing. What’s most disturbing is, Republicans are standing there with their hands in their pockets looking at their shoes.”

He added that Trump is trying to burn down the FBI because he sees it as a threat, but that in the long run the institution and the country will survive the Trump presidency.

“We are going to be OK. All of this will pass,” he said. “But we need a moment of inflection in this country. If Trump were removed from office by impeachment, a whole lot of people would believe that there’d been a coup. We need to vote the values that glue us together. We need to remove him from office using that mechanism, so we send a message that we will not have a leader who does not embody those values.”

Learn more about the Distinguished Speaker Series at speakersla.com.

Man on a Mission

LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has big — and controversial — plans for the beleaguered department

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 1/10/2019

Newly elected Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva began his shrievalty Dec. 3 when he was sworn in at East Los Angeles College following a vote counting process that lasted weeks after Election Day in a close race with incumbent Jim McDonnell. As the county’s 33rd sheriff, Villanueva has promised to “reform, rebuild and restore” the Sheriff’s Department.

Villanueva, 55, last served as a lieutenant and a watch commander at the department’s Pico Rivera Station. He worked for the department for more than 30 years before retiring in February.

Villanueva is LA’s first Democratic sheriff in 138 years and the first to speak fluent Spanish. He was an underdog candidate who defeated McDonnell with 52.8 percent of the ballots cast, ultimately receiving 1.3 million votes in a county of more than 10 million people, according to final results by the LA County Registrar-Recorder/Clerk’s Office. McDonnell, elected in a landslide in 2014, was the first incumbent sheriff to be unseated in an election in LA County in more than a century.

McDonnell’s predecessor Lee Baca resigned in disgrace in 2014 and was sentenced to three years in federal prison in 2017 for his role in obstructing an FBI investigation into corruption and deputies’ abuse of inmates in county jails. Dozens of deputies and former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka were also convicted in that scandal. Baca is currently out of jail while a three-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals considers his appeal. Villanueva now says abuse of inmates in county jails “has almost disappeared,” and that the focus should be on inmate violence against jail personnel.

After pledging to kick federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents out of county jails, Villanueva’s voter base in the election included Latinos and progressives. At his swearing-in ceremony, he told his deputies that “the success of your career will be determined by how well you serve the community, not the political powers that be. Those days are over. We will not allow any divisive policies from outside LA or California dictate the way we do our job here in California. Our hard-working immigrant families shouldn’t have to wonder if we’re here to protect them or deport them.”

But now some progressive groups and others are concerned about a few of his other positions. For instance, he supports the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs’ (ALADS) lawsuit to block the release of a list of problem deputies known as the Brady List, which is now before the California Supreme Court. ALADS supported Villanueva’s campaign.

He also plans to limit the disciplinary role of two constitutional policing advisers. The LA Times editorial board wrote that Villanueva “has yet to make a convincing case that the real problem facing the Sheriff’s Department was too many deputies facing too much discipline, or that constitutional policing advisers were running amok,” and called on him to reconsider.

During his first week, Villanueva removed 18 high-ranking officials from their posts and told 500 other captains, commanders and lieutenants that he’s reviewing whether they will remain in their positions and that they should remove their rank insignia from their uniforms.

Villanueva recently spoke with the Pasadena Weekly about his priorities, what he plans to do differently from his predecessors and challenges facing the department.

Pasadena Weekly: What are your main priorities as the new LA County sheriff?

Sheriff Alex Villanueva: We’re converting our ‘Reform, Rebuild, Restore’ campaign slogan into an actual action plan. The first three days that I was actually at work … shows you the route I’m taking on that. On Tuesday, we did a leadership assessment for lieutenants and above. We did some leadership training. On Wednesday, we went to jail. We spent time doing an assessment of the ICE situation in our county jails and how we’re going to literally kick them out. On Thursday, we were working on the issue of body cam deployment.

What does it mean to the Latino community in Los Angeles to have a Latino sheriff who speaks fluent Spanish?

It’s important for them, and hopefully I can live up to their expectations of me. When any one group that has someone who’s a representative of that group enter into that leadership position, it’s always a good day. My mom’s side of the family is Polish, and I remember when John Paul II became pope, my grandma and my mom were walking a foot taller.

Do you support civilian oversight of the Sheriff’s Department? What should that ideally look like?

It has to be a partnership. The [state] constitution lays out that the oversight of the sheriff, per se, is the voters. And then from the operations standpoint, that’s where we’re going to work hand-in-hand with the oversight commission. I want them to be informed. I want them to have everything they need to be able to do their job effectively so I can make informed decisions based on their input. They represent stakeholders throughout the county.

How do you plan to reform the county jail system so there is less or no abuse of inmates?

It’s not just the abuse of inmates that’s the problem. That has almost disappeared. There are three elements to the problem of violence in our jails: the use of force from our personnel against inmates, the violence of inmate on inmate and the violence of inmates against staff. The outgoing sheriff focused solely on the force against inmates and forgot the other two. So we need to swing the pendulum back to the middle somewhere, where everyone can be in a safe environment in the jails, whether you’re an inmate, a civilian employee or a sworn deputy.

What should the Sheriff’s Department’s relationship with ICE look like?

They need to do their job and we need to not be involved in their federal immigration enforcement efforts. We want nothing to do with that. Our sole priority is providing public safety for all of LA County’s residents, regardless of immigration status. We have the largest undocumented population in the entire nation within our county, and public safety means the entire public. That includes them.

You had a large progressive voter base in this election, but now some progressives are worried about a few of your positions, such as limiting the disciplinary role of two constitutional policing advisers. Do you still plan to do that, and why is that a necessary step?

The individual one in particular that was involved in that, they went way beyond their mandate or their original intent of being constitutional policing advisers. They actually overrode the decisions of our own unit commanders and division chiefs, who are the ones who are imposing the discipline. That was not the intention of the entire program when it was set up. It’s something that looks nice on paper, and people unfortunately bought the idea hook, line and sinker that we were getting advice that was going to somehow put us in a better light in regards to the constitution, but what they did is they actually created a nightmare in terms of violating due process for employees and for the public as well. Now we have to undo some of that damage.

Do you still support ALADS’s lawsuit against releasing the Brady List, and if so, do you plan to compile a new list?

We want to have a list that’s accurate and fair, for sure. We’re going to use the Brady List as a starting point. We’re going to go through each and every case one by one, but ultimately the list itself is not the end game. The end goal is actually to make sure that those who provide testimony in court, who prepare written reports, who gather and submit evidence, that the process is not tainted or compromised so someone doesn’t end up being wrongfully convicted based on tainted testimony. That is the end game. To that end, we’re going to work very hard.

Where do you stand on deputy group tattoos?

I’m not going to tolerate a clique or any kind of mentality that goes from just having ink on your body to criminal behavior. That’s not acceptable. We’re looking at all of our options available to make sure that doesn’t happen. The problem with the tattoos and the cliques is one of unchecked hazing that went on for literally almost two decades. That was an outcome of that unchecked hazing. There was a failure of supervision and a failure of leadership, and we’re working hard to resolve that.

Do you see the Sheriff’s Department, under your command, doing anything differently in its relationships with municipalities such as Pasadena, as well as its role in international relations?

We’re like Grand Central Station for a lot of nations and a lot of the different immigrant groups. We want to have good, working relations with all 88 cities in the county. We provide constant law enforcement services to 42 of them, and we want to make sure we’re always a viable alternative for any city that’s in financial distress or is having difficulty with their own police department. We don’t want to take any police departments away. That’s not our goal by any means. We want them to be successful, but we’re a fallback option in case they have issues. That happens occasionally, especially when people get into hard financial situations. We can provide a more economical alternative for basic law enforcement services.

Is there anything you plan to do differently on the Mitrice Richardson case?

I’m very aware of that case, and we’re going to get to the bottom of what happened and what went wrong. I’m not satisfied with what we’ve done to date. The truth and reconciliation process is one of the first things we’re going to be addressing.

Can you tell me more about how you were discriminated against in terms of not being promoted in the Sheriff’s Department, and how do you change that culture in the department?

For the last almost 20 years, the department has been driven by cronyism. It was a political patronage system. If you didn’t fit the bill or, for example, if you were a minority, you were always limited to a very predetermined role in the organization. No matter what you did, how hard you worked or how much education you had, your future was already predetermined for you with a firm glass ceiling. I butted up against that glass ceiling my entire career. I said, ‘This is just unacceptable.’ I think every single employee has a right to play on a level playing field.