• ALHAMBRA – Ed Netka says that in Sierra Acura of Alhambra, “The
    customer is always right.” Those are welcome words to anyone and a large reason
    why his dealership has one of the highest customer satisfaction scores in the
    nation, when it comes to Acura dealerships nationwide, scoring 98.4 out of a
    possible 100 points.

    Acura in Southern California has its historical roots as far
    back as the early 20th century, when Paul Hoffman began selling cars
    in 1908. Paul would begin selling Studebakers in 1910 in Los Angeles (he began
    in Chicago). At the age of 21, he won a national sales contest, selling 26 cars
    in six weeks. His prize was $100.

    Paul would later meet John M. Studebaker and would serve as
    president of Studebaker from 1935 to 1948. He helped pioneer the Studebaker car
    in the late 1940s, a car that was inspired by the horse and carriage, only more
    futuristic looking. And he would later serve as the managing director of the
    United Nations Development Program.

    His grandson, Peter Hoffman, has since 1987 operated and owns
    the Alhambra branch. His father’s name is Lanthrope G. Hoffman. Another
    integral part of the Alhambra branch has been Alvin Trinh, who has been a
    leader in the company for 13 years.

    The big three auto companies, however, squeezed out the
    earlier Hoffman and his innovative ideas. But today they remain strong. They
    are number three in the district that includes the area surrounded by Covina,
    Ventura and Cerritos. In addition they are the number 11 dealership in the zone
    that is composed of California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona.

    Netka said that 2009 was a challenging year for them, with
    the increase in sales tax and DMV fees. But he said that Acura has weathered
    the storm, although challenges still remain. Once having as many as 175 cars,
    the dealership now has 100. And for those who think this might diminish the
    quality, look no further than the 2010 ZDX, a car with bold styling, advanced
    safety technology and a designer who studied at Pasadena’s Art Center and

    Acura is the only company that produces cars on the market
    that have a 5-star rating, determined by the National Highway Traffic Safety
    Administration. They have also won numerous awards for styling and design.

    By Liz Hezlep

    The summer
    evening was perfect for GLAZA’s 40th Annual Beastly Ball held Saturday June
    19th at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens to honor entertainment icon
    Betty White, a longtime GLAZA supporter and Trustee. The event raised
    $1,191,461 for the Zoo.

    White was
    named Ambassador to the Animals of the City of Los Angeles by Mayor Villaraigosa in 2006 for
    her dedication to the care of, and loving concern for, all animals. She readily
    admits, ”I love this zoo with all my heart…I’ve been a zoo lover all my

    In a March
    2010 interview she discussed “her 46 year partnership with the Los Angeles Zoo,
    calling it one of her two loves in life, alongside show business.”

    to Glaza president Connie Morgan of La Canada,
    “Betty White is synonymous with the Los
    Angeles Zoo…and honoring her is our great joy.”

    Zoo director
    John Lewis agreed,”Betty is truly one of the greatest fans of the LA Zoo… she
    knows our animals and staff on a first name basis and when she’s not on
    television or in a movie you can usually find her here at the zoo.”

    NC/S star
    Pauley Perrette served as emcee for the evening’s program which included video
    tributes to White by Jay Leno, Alex Trebek, Jane Goodall, Craig Ferguson as
    well as in- person honors from City of Los Angeles Mayor
    Antonio Villaraigosa; US
    Congressman Brad Sherman and City of Los
    Angeles Councilmember Tom LaBonge. White’s Award was
    presented to her by GLAZA president Morgan, GLAZA chairman Tom Mankiewicz and

    Attired in
    casual or safari garb, over 1,000 guests strolled through the zoo, viewing its
    inhabitants in the Australia,
    Great Ape, and Aquatic areas. Animal feedings and ”animal walk-abouts” were
    featured including chats with keepers strolling among the crowd handling, among
    others, a boa constrictor, a turtle, a slithery brown snake and owls, a
    beautiful turquoise and yellow macaw. A marimba band kept things lively and a
    colorful giant “butterfly “ on stilts kept young people amused. While feasting
    on tasty fare, provided by some of L A and Pasadena’s most popular restaurants,
    attendees were able to view and bid on conveniently located silent auction

    At the
    appointed time, following the close of the silent auction, guests were summoned
    to the plaza area where they were given the red carpet treatment as they
    entered. Attendees were encouraged to continue their feasting before being
    seated for the program.

    the presentations and tributes to Betty White a live auction was held,
    conducted by popular weatherman Fritz Coleman and Jimmy Pardo, Among the most
    popular items were a pre-opening tour of the Zoo’s new Pachyderm Forest with
    Betty White; a visit with Zenyatta one of horseracing’s all time greats at
    Hollywood Park race track with her owners and racing manager; and the LA Zoo’s
    Vets package -a behind-the-scenes experience at the zoo’s Gottlieb Animal Health
    and Conservation Center. Dancing and desserts concluded the evening’s

    restaurants included Bar Celonoa, Cafe 140 South, Celestino Ristorante,
    Clancy’s Crab Broiler, El Cholo restaurant-LA, Fabiolus Café, Green Street
    Restaurant, Il Fornaio Cucina Italiana, La Poubelle Bistro and Bar, Ixtapa
    Cantina, Maison Akira, Malo Cantina, Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs, Villa Sorriso, and

    dignitaries in attendance were Los Angeles PD Chief Beck, Councilwoman Janice
    Hahn and James Hahn.

    from our area were Tom and Lisa Evans, Colleen and Ty Evans, Kimberly and
    Robert Shepherd, Jane and Kris Popovich, Jeanne and John Matthiesen, Mary and
    Bill Urquhart.


    The Junior
    League of Pasadena held its Annual Meeting on May 25, at the historic Green
    Hotel in Pasadena.
    Members honored incoming leadership and outstanding volunteers. as well as
    celebrating the league’s tradition of service in the community. Community
    partners present included representatives from Mother’s Club, Institute for Girls
    Development, Huntington Library and Gardens, California Institute for Technology,
    Madison Elementary and The Delta Academy.

    President Katrina Onderdonk welcomed Incoming President Nicole Weaver-Goller
    who holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and a professional background
    in nonprofit development. Active member Sandy Roberts received the Volunteer
    Award for Excellence. Roberts most recently chaired the BodyWise Committee, whose
    efforts are dedicated to organizing an annual health and wellbeing event for
    girls. She will be stepping up as Director of Marketing in the coming League
    year, and “leads by example and with such heart,” said outgoing League
    Marketing Director Alison DeVriendt, who presented the award to Roberts

    Tromble Mapel was honored with the Nancy Reed Payne Award, given to a
    sustaining member who has distinguished herself with outstanding service in the
    community. Mapel joined the Junior League of Pasadena, Inc. in 1976 and has
    been “a true inspiration and role model of community service,” said Sustainer
    Director Carrie Rabkin, Mapel has served as President to multiple
    organizations: Encore, Stanford Club of Pasadena, Las Angelitas del Pueblo and
    Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. She also served on many boards and was a
    docent for the Huntington Library for 18 years. In 2008 Mapel was elected
    Overseer at the Huntington Library.

    The League
    introduced 44 new actives and recognized new sustaining members: Jodi Breneman,
    Maya Douglas, Peggy Geragos, Sherry Gray, Melissa Lowry, Martha Padgett, and
    Ann Rice.

    For more
    information on the Junior League of Pasadena please visit www.jrleaguepasadena.org.

    ...Read More

    By Mitch Lehman

    San Marino High School math teacher Dr. Tom Armbruster, was recently honored
    with the highest award given by the school to those parents, teachers, and other
    volunteers “who go above and beyond the call of duty” for the students of the San Marino Unified School District.

    San Marino
    PTSA President Mary Falkenbury and SMHS Principal Loren Kleinrock presented the
    award to Armbruster on Wednesday, June 2 “in recognition of his enthusiastic
    support of our students for over 25 years.”

    For the complete story, read the San Marino Tribune print

    ...Read More

    By Mitch Lehman

    For many,
    if not most of the parents associated with last Friday’s incredible (again)
    Grad Night celebration, it might have seemed as though the theme was ‘Deja Vu’
    rather than the actual ‘Star Wars,’ given that most – if not all – were the
    same age their children are now when the record-shattering film hit theaters in
    May of 1977.

    Funny, but
    it doesn’t feel like “a long time ago” and this certainly isn’t “a galaxy far,
    far away.”

    graduation at San Marino
    High School, an annual
    labor of love like few if any other on the planet, and the 2010 version was at
    least up to par thanks to co-chairs Fiona Harwich and Lorrie Forgatch.

    Excuse the
    young people if their twelve-year journey through the local schools feels much

    “A long
    time ago, in a galaxy far, far away we started our journey as padawan
    elementary trainees in Carver, Valentine, and other youngling worlds,” said
    grads Stephanie Chow and James Shechet, who delivered the commencement address
    with an appropriate nod to the decoration.

    been tempted by the dark side – senioritis – we have put skipping classes,
    neglecting homework, procrastination, and excessive facebooking to a minimal.
    After fighting the dark side we are here together not as a clone army but as a
    group of individual thinkers.”

    The duo
    then paid homage to many of their teachers, some who recently closed their
    grade books for the final time.

    For the complete story, read the San Marino Tribune print

    ...Read More

    by Winston Chua 

    – By now, horse racing aficionados are well aware that MI Developments founder
    and Chairman Frank Stronach and Oak Tree Racing have reached a verbal agreement
    to provide Oak Tree Racing a one-year lease agreement to race at Santa Anita
    Park for 2010.

    the agreement may seem simple between the two parties, how it arrived at that
    conclusion is a completely different story.

    nearly four uninterrupted hours, the assumption in the Hollywood Park meeting
    room seemed to indicate that Stronach wanted no part of Oak Tree.

    like Zenyatta’s breathtaking performance (just not as cool) June 13 at
    Hollywood Park, something brilliantly unexpected came.

    discussion between Stronach, the California Horse Racing Board and Oak Tree
    seemed to indicate that Oak Tree had, according to the MI Developments
    Chairman, decisively planned to leave Santa Anita as early as June 5.

    addition, he repeated over and over how having Oak Tree at Santa Anita “doesn’t
    make economic sense,” even though Oak Tree executive vice president Sherwood
    Chillingworth pointed out that they had given the Chairman $50 million over the
    past 11 years.

    Commissioner Bo Derek questioned why Stronach was “driving away the Breeders’
    Cup” and was met with the same “it doesn’t make business sense” answer.

    MI Developments founder’s statements seemed to be saying that he is more
    focused on the long-term sustenance of horse racing in California and the role
    he can play in the monumental task of resurrecting the sport, through
    legislation and deregulation.

    and his statements were met with both applause and frustration from the
    audience, but the CHRB acknowledged his passion for horse racing as a whole.

    seemed doomed for expulsion for Santa Anita; Chillingworth even asked for a
    termination statement in writing from Stronach.

    Chairman Keith Brackpool tried to make sense of the timeline as to how the
    events arrived to Tuesday’s meeting, when a Zenyatta moment arrived.

    this time of figuring things out, Stronach extended the olive branch and
    allowed Oak Tree to use Santa Anita Park for just one more year, although the
    board insisted that no hasty decisions regarding a time table.

    the Oak Tree agenda item were more than a dozen other agenda items, including
    minisatellite wagering facilities, amendments to rules and distribution of
    charity proceeds, including a $48,000 gift from Oak Tree Racing to eight
    beneficiaries. The CHRB also praised the spectacular race of Zenyatta, who won
    in exhilarating fashion for the 17th time at Hollywood Park on June
    13. Her race can be found on ESPN.com.

    David Israel, Moss and Derek for much of the discussion seemed puzzled by MI
    Development’s stance on why it would be beneficial to leave Santa Anita empty.

    Sources close to the action
    have reported that Oak Tree is looking to move to Del Mar in 2011. The City of
    Arcadia, with its need for charitable contributions, stands to benefit from Oak
    Tree’s presence this year.

    by Winston Chua

    ARCADIA – Beverly Hills has been typically known for its
    wealth and strong education system. It is no surprise, then, that parents who
    live outside BHUSD and expected that their children attend the aforementioned
    city’s district are upset that their own will no longer be granted that

    “As a parent, what you want for your youngster is to start
    them in school and have them finish there,” San Gabriel Superintendent Susan
    Parks said. “It’s ideal to start them and finish them at school with a strong
    peer group, friendships and teachers.”

    Tuesday night, the Los Angeles County Office of Education
    rejected appeals made by parents who were pining to have their children attend
    BHUSD. As part of a BHUSD compromise, students currently enrolled at the high
    school on permit will be allowed to have their permits renewed, including last
    year’s freshmen.

    So far, LACOE has rejected 25 appeals and granted seven.
    BHUSD moved into a Basic Aid category earlier this year, meaning that local
    property tax revenues in the area exceed the sum of funding that the state
    would have provided.

    School districts can move into the Basic Aid formula as a
    result of the state’s fiscal crisis.

    To the extent that BHUSD is, in effect, pushing students
    away, West San Gabriel Valley cities simply cannot afford to do so. In
    Alhambra, San Gabriel and Arcadia, revenue limits are tied substantially to the
    average daily attendance (ADA), the average number of students who attended
    school over the course of a year.

    ADA figures help determine the total amount of state

    In the Alhambra Unified School District, the revenue limit
    for the upcoming year is $98 million, $80 million of which is state aid and $18
    million of which is from property tax. Denise Jaramillo, the assistant
    superintendent of financial services for Alhambra Unified, said there would be
    “no benefit to funding based on purely property tax.”

    Arcadia Unified will receive about $5,000 per student from
    the state for the school year 2010-11, or about $49 million.

    Ken Shelton, the assistant superintendent of business
    services for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, said that the state
    does not fund public education when the property tax yield, made up of
    commercial and residential sources, is greater than what the a particular
    district is entitled to, with some exceptions.

    “It’s not a district choice,” he said. “It’s a combination
    of factors that move districts into Basic Aid status.” What can happen is that
    when property tax revenues are high, districts receive les state aid.

    SGUSD’s Parks said that her district would not be able to
    survive with Basic Aid because many homeowners, who have lived in San Gabriel
    for a long time, pay very little in property taxes. The effect of Serrano v. Priest
    and Proposition 13, which limits property tax revenue, is said to have led to
    the decline in quality education in California.

    The Arcadia Unified School District also depends on the
    state for much of its funding, because it simply could not survive on property
    taxes alone. The bad part about this is that when the State struggles, so does
    AUSD. In Arcadia, the numbers still point to per-pupil funding as a reliable
    income source.

    In Arcadia, one of the few times the city rejects students
    is if the students has moved to another city and has not completed their junior
    year in school.

    Arcadia School Board member Joann Steinmeier said that her
    district believes that students should be a part of the district they belong
    in. One case where students don’t belong as part of her district is bad
    behavior, that being the main exclusionary rule.

    Arcadia USD transfers roughly the same amount of students
    out of district as they take in.

    The Greater Pasadena area is
    resplendent with fantastic architectural homes of all styles and sizes. As a Realtor, it is such a pleasure to
    have the opportunity to tour many of these homes. I marvel at the original design, the moldings and the array
    of other design details originating from the minds of such geniuses as Paul
    Williams, Greene and Greene, and Roland Coate (just to name a few). We are blessed to have such rich
    architectural history in our own communities and have an inherent
    responsibility to make sure that the alterations that we make to these homes is
    an improvement to the Architect’s original design, not a detraction.

    One of the most striking changes that
    many families are choosing to make to these older homes is the expansion of the
    kitchen area and the addition of an attached family room. Many of these early 1900’s homes were
    equipped with small kitchens, which often had a nearby maid’s room, bath and
    laundry room. Back when these
    homes were built, the kitchen was not a place of opulence or indulgence but a
    place that the everyday work of meal preparation happened. Today, even those who have help in the
    home desire their kitchen to be one of the best rooms in the house, an inviting
    gathering place for family and friends.

    According to area contractor, Lee
    Haslam, if you had to choose one item to improve in your home, he would suggest
    doing the kitchen/family room remodel.
    Beyond the enjoyment that it will bring to your own family, this
    configuration has universal appeal to home buyers. Haslam contends that as long as you spend your money wisely,
    improvements to this area of your home will go straight to your bottom line during
    the selling process. He suggests
    using high quality materials and contractors but warns against the tendency to
    over-spend. According to Haslam,
    “Every decision should be a business decision first and a design decision
    second.” Assuming that you work
    within the original footprint of the home and are not adding square footage, he
    believes that you can complete a very beautiful kitchen/family room for a
    maximum of $100,000.

    Another very important and worthwhile
    upgrade is the bathrooms of the home.
    The addition of double sinks, water closets and larger and more
    elaborate showers and bathtubs are all a bonus for home buyers. Just because a bathroom is updated, it
    does not have to appear out of place.
    Stores such as Mission Tile in South Pasadena have an array of vintage
    tiles and materials that can give a bathroom a period feel. Whatever you do, make sure that it is
    in keeping with the home’s original architecture and scale. The whole object is to make these rooms
    fit in with the rest of the house, while adding convenience, attractiveness and
    function. If your home is Spanish,
    use materials which blend and harmonize with the terra cotta tile, rot iron and
    arches inherent in most Spanish Architecture. Assuming that you are working within your original bathroom
    footprint, a bathroom remodel should cost between $15,000 and $20,000
    (including infrastructure), but Haslam thinks that you could to do it for as
    little as $10,000. Haslam
    advocates the use of simple moderately priced materials, such as white
    rectangular subway tile and white hexagon floor tile in bathrooms. You can never go wrong with these
    timeless and attractive materials, and they are extremely suited for our period

    Sellers frequently ask me if they
    should redo their kitchen and baths before putting their homes on the
    market. These sellers have usually
    spent many years in their home and have never gotten around to the tedious
    renovation process. My usual
    advice is to leave them alone, unless there are major cracks or flaws. Well-maintained homes that are clean
    and original are very desirable to a large group of buyers. Many buyers will want to make their own
    improvements, and money spent in haste will probably not add dollar for dollar
    to your bottom line.

    by Winston Chua

    ARCADIA – MI Developments founder and Chairman Frank Stronach and Oak Tree Racing have
    reached a verbal agreement to provide Oak Tree Racing a one-year lease agreement for 2010.

    It is a position that for most of Tuesday’s California Horse Racing Board he refused to budge on. However, in the
    long run, he does not believe a lease agreement with Oak Tree Racing is in the best interests of Santa Anita Park.

    The Board tried to pin down what exactly had been going wrong with the negotiations between Oak Tree and Santa Anita that essentially began in early June; and it was not until the very end of the agenda item that Stronach offered the olive branch to Oak Tree.

    The Board tried to make sense of why no tenant for this year, would make better sense in the short and long run than one tenant would, as Stronach had been contending.

    Chairman and board members Keith Brackpool, David Israel, Jerry Moss and Bo Derek for much of the discussion were puzzled by MI Development’s stance on leaving Santa Anita empty.

    Hollywood Park and Del Mar may be options for Oak Tree next year, and Chillingworth thanked them for their cooperation. He mentioned also that the City of Arcadia will be helped by Oak Tree’s presence at Santa Anita.

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