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In Their Own Words

Somewhere between Y2K and dimpled chads, life, in all its delicious complexity, continued its inexorable march before our wondering eyes this past year.

On the pages of Valley Perspective, San Fernando Valley residents vented their anger, expressed their astonishment, laughed, cried, made promises, observations and, more often than not, good sense.

What follows is the passing parade of AD 2000 in the words of those who joined in the march--and through the pen of cartoonist J.D. Crowe.

Politics

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* “In the Republican Party, women are looked at as useful for licking stamps and answering phones. They don’t really welcome us as candidates.”

--Republican Assembly candidate Susan Carpenter McMillan

*

“No. I have a real hard time with someone who doesn’t believe in choice because I think of the impact it’s going to have on women.”

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--Republican Assembly candidate Jayne Murphy Shapiro, on whether she supported the Bush-Cheney ticket; she later changed her mind

*

“When the Republicans talk about diversity, it means they have two different oilmen.”

--Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), on the Bush-Cheney ticket

*

“At times, it was a little on the surreal side. I was walking precincts in Burbank . . . which I have probably done about a thousand times, only this time I had ABC, CBS and Time magazine walking behind me. People were very disappointed to learn they had not won a Publishers Clearing House prize when I showed up [at] their door. Or they were relieved that they hadn’t been indicted and weren’t about to be on ’60 Minutes.’ ”

--Adam Schiff, on his campaign for the 27th Congressional District seat against Republican incumbent James E. Rogan

Brotherhood

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* “Los Angeles is an interesting place because we have such a segregated society. Everyone says it’s the most diverse city in the world, and it really is. But we’re really divided into neighborhoods, from upscale white neighborhoods in Calabasas to Koreatown to Pico Rivera. And people don’t go to these neighborhoods. . . . You go from your gated community to your work and back, and you don’t meet the people outside and you don’t get to know them.”

--Aaron Levinson, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s San Fernando Valley office.

*

“If you look at a Latino and an Armenian community, they are very similar with very similar values: family, hard work, faith, respect for the elders . . . they’re communities that really emphasize taking care of their own.”

--Then-candidate Dario Frommer, now the 43rd District assemblyman, on easing tensions between Latinos and Armenians in Glendale

*

“To Mexican immigrants like my father, tools were worth their weight in gold. The ability to use a saw or drill could guarantee gainful employment and take them away from backbreaking jobs--digging ditches, harvesting potatoes--that paid a meager wage.”

--Sunland writer Mary Helen Ponce, remembering her father and the implements of his work

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“I would like to point out what should be glaringly obvious to the English-only types: When the Constitution states that we have freedom of speech, it doesn’t limit this freedom to any particular language. If some of that free speech should be in Spanish or Chinese or Armenian, then fine. That is what freedom is all about.”

--Carlos E. Garcia, president, Garcia Research Associates Inc., a consumer research company that studies the U.S. Hispanic market

*

“To whom do the Reform rabbinate pray? They certainly do not pray to the same God that I pray to. My God created the universe, gave a set of rules, regulations, morals, values and consequences. My God demanded that I keep kosher, the Sabbath and prohibited homosexuality. Their God, if he or she exists, did none of the above. My God loves me enough to give me instructions and cares enough about me to tell me to do the right thing. Their God seems to want for them confusion, doubt and struggle.”

--Rabbi Aron Tendler of Shaarey Zedek Congregation in Valley Village, on the vote by the Central Conference of American Rabbis to approve same-sex marriages

*

“Not long ago, at the mall an adult asked what was ‘wrong’ with me. I really wanted to say, ‘People like you.’ ”

--Sixth-grader Allison Cameron Gray, who has cerebral palsy, on attitudes toward the disabled

*

“Like any loving mother, when my children were frightened I used to hug them and assure them that I would keep them safe. On Aug. 10, 1999, my words became an empty promise when a gunman with a semiautomatic weapon walked into the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills and began shooting. It was over in an instant, an instant that changed so many lives. Five people were shot including my own precious 6-year-old son. . . . Out of that instant the Million Mom March was born.”

--Loren Lieb, parent and gun-control advocate

Secession

* “Even if we all love one another to pieces, we can benefit from the smaller local governments that would result from detachment. As we have learned from the world’s experiments with various political and economic systems, it is less the innate kindness of individuals and more the structure under which we live that affects how things turn out.”

--Cal State Northridge economics professor Shirley Svorney

*

“San Fernando Valley leaders don’t want the city to sell bonds for Playa Vista. Leaders south of the Santa Monica Mountains don’t want money spent on any structures in the Valley. Even the question of recycling water--a not unimportant issue for a city built in a desert--is generating arguments about who gets the treated waste water. Whose roads get repaved, what police or fire stations get built, what parks refurbished--all are falling into the roiling waters of selfishness. Just about everything a city does will fall prey--not to Not in My Backyard or NIMBYism--but something even worse. Instead, in the language of accusatory acronyms, we will have ‘No Toys for You’ (NOTOYOU. Notoyou no matter what!).”

--UCLA Political scientist Xandra Kayden

*

“I have often said that the City Council, on a day-to-day basis, does much more to promote secession than anything I could do.”

--Valley VOTE President Jeff Brain

Youth

* “A lot of suburban kids dress like gangsters because they admire gangsters. The menacing appearance, the capacity for sudden violence, simply looks cool to a lot of middle-class kids without actual gang affiliations. . . . We should hardly be surprised by this when the commercial interests that peddle entertainment to the young continue to glamorize what I call ‘the culture of menace’ through gangsta rap (still the most popular form of hip-hop music) and gangster films. They know what sells, and the culture of menace has been increasing its market share year after year.”

--Cal State Northridge English professor Jack Solomon

*

“If we want our boys to behave humanely and responsibly, someone in their world must model those values. Violence can be a provocative response to a seemingly indifferent world--an attempt to get a reaction, any reaction, from distracted or inured adults.”

--Aaron Kipnis, author of “Angry Young Men: How Parents, Teachers, and Counselors Can Help ‘Bad Boys’ Become Good Men”

*

“Adolescents do a great service for society. Part of their mission is to warn us where we’re going wrong. . . . When kids cut themselves, disfigure themselves, it’s a warning sign of the health of society.”

--Principal John Hyland of North Hollywood High School

Environment

* “We are . . . admonished that the rare southwestern arroyo toad, though not extinct, is endangered so its habitat needs protection. . . . And where is that habitat? Why, anywhere that people may want to build housing. It is claimed to cover the counties of Monterey, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside and San Diego. That comes to a total of 44,318 square miles, which is almost three times the size of Switzerland, to say nothing of some other countries with United Nations memberships and standing armies. That’s some toad habitat.”

--Gideon Kanner, professor of law emeritus at Loyola Law School

*

“This species . . . was likely the model for Mark Twain’s ‘Celebrated Jumping Frog.’ The red-legged frog has declined greatly since Twain’s time due to destruction of river and stream habitat, the introduction of bullfrogs and other nonnative predators, water diversions and a variety of other causes.”

--John T. Buse, senior staff attorney at the Ventura office of the Environmental Defense Center

*

“The plain truth is that this recycled water will be the cleanest water in our ground water supply.”

--S. David Freeman, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Frances Spivy-Weber, policy director of the Mono Lake Committee, on the proposed use of recycled waste water

. . . And Work

* “Truth is, private industry--and many suburban districts--wouldn’t pay some [United Teachers-Los Angeles] members to break rocks, much less teach, so they’ve camped here for life.”

--William Chitwood, former public-school teacher now a private-sector language arts instructor

*

“For every actor who can’t make a decent living--and that’s what we’re talking about here--there’s a home not sold or a car not bought or a restaurant with an empty table. It’s less tax money for schools, police and fire departments.”

--Joe O’Connor, a Valley Village resident and striking actor

*

“There’s no way for people at the lower end of our economic spectrum to be able to afford a decent place to live in our city. A hard-working wage earner, someone who is helping sustain the economic recovery, not lead it, is relegated to living in substandard housing conditions and has children who may never see conditions other than those.”

--City Councilman Mike Feuer, on the lack of affordable housing in Los Angeles

Finally . . .

* “Yeah, the Valley’s tough love, but she’s got her charms. . . . Tonight, when her heat is spent, she’ll leave behind the scent of citrus and jasmine. The tiki torches and porch lights will go on, and people will come out and into her soft light, to sit on the curb and drink wine, play mariachi music in their backyards or lie near-naked by a thousand glowing turquoise pools.”

--Former Westside resident Michelle Markel, on adjusting to life in the San Fernando Valley


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