Start the Presses: Notes from Around Town

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In a recent car commercial, a couple wander around an area easily identified (to locals anyhow) as downtown Burbank. They pass by the Market City Café and Gourmet 88, among others, before deciding on an unidentified meal at an unnamed spot lit by neon. Though still a kick to see your town on TV, downtown seemed eerily quiet in the ad.

San Fernando Road was bursting with far more menu choices and people Thursday night for the Taste of Downtown Burbank. About 40 restaurants took part, turning the oft-busy downtown corridor into a bit of a madhouse. The place was packed, with people having to step lightly to keep clear of on another's eco-friendly trays and biodegradable utensils, piled high with food.

The event featured a fair amount of star power, headlined by Nikki Cascone, known for her work on the Bravo show "Top Chef." Cascone gave a demonstration on organic cooking practices and wine pairings to an appreciative audience. In the background, Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers — which I listened to if only because of the name — pumped out swing music.

Though I did hear some grumbling about the $30 ticket price, it seemed people clearly got their money's worth. The event was touted as "zero waste," with attendants standing by the trash areas, letting people know what could be recycled, composted or thrown away. Bellies must have been full, as the compost can seemed pretty empty.

"It's not exactly zero waste," said one volunteer, as another packed up a bag labeled "Landfill." "But we're trying."

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Earlier that day, reporter Gretchen Meier and I made a presentation to the Burbank Police Department's command staff. As the community paper in town, our threshold for news is generally far below that of KNBC or the Los Angeles Times. As such, we asked department officials to let us know about happenings they might consider minor or uninteresting.

For example, two of our most-read stories online during the last week involved an allegedly drunk man who drove his Corvette into a Burbank man's living room — ruining his birthday dinner — and a non-injury accident involving an ambulance. Though these issues are just one part of our coverage, they are items that people here are very much interested in.

I felt the presentation went well, and I am grateful to Chief Scott LaChasse for giving us the opportunity to speak.

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Moving to Glendale, Thursday also marked the annual State of the Schools address, the first given by Supt. Dick Sheehan. Sheehan, who took over from former Supt. Michael Escalante in July, praised the work of his predecessor — as well as those who came before him — in making Glendale one of the strongest districts in the state.

In particular, he touted the district's results in the Academic Performance Index, a statewide program measuring school effectiveness. A score of 800 is considered high-achieving, and Glendale raised its score 13 points to 842.

California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell also praised the district, noting it dealt with various issues — such as the Station Fire that closed schools for several days — without negatively impacting instruction.

But perhaps the biggest star was the placemat for the breakfast meeting featuring various photos of Sheehan: as a young boy, football coach, teacher and principal. Slightly goofy perhaps, but fun.

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And finally, I want to remind people in the Crescenta Valley that applications are now available to run for the Crescenta Valley Town Council. The Town Council acts as an advocate and advisory board for the unincorporated areas of La Crescenta and Montrose. To be eligible, you must have lived in those areas for at least a year.

Applications are due by Oct. 17. A candidate forum is scheduled to take place Oct. 21, with the vote occurring on Nov. 6. For more information, go to: http://thecvcouncil.com.

Dan Evans is the editor. Reach him at dan.evans@latimes.com.

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