Q&A;: From La Cañada to the White House

Andy Beattie is a member of the La Cañada Flintridge Public Safety Commission, and when not working at his apparel company or on local safety issues, he can be found in close proximity to the president of the United States. He answered questions from the La Cañada Valley Sun via email.

Sun: Why do you volunteer for the Public Safety Commission and what is the most important work the commission does?

Beattie: I enjoy public service and believe that each of us should contribute to the community where we can. Public safety is a particular interest for me.

The commission’s function is to evaluate the public safety needs of the community and make recommendations to the City Council for programs and services. Projects like the Reverse 911 communications system, the forums on social hosting laws and teen substance abuse, and distribution of fire and earthquake preparedness materials are some of the recent activities that Commissioners Olivia Brown, Kay Linden, Tom Schafer, Joel Smith and I worked on.

Q: Volunteer Emergency Response Team training is coming up in June. What will people do at the training? Climb ropes? CPR?

A: There won’t be much rope climbing, but our VERT training courses provide great basic instruction into fighting small fires, providing lifesaving medical assistance, organizing and participating in search and rescue, and more, to help our citizens and our city survive natural disasters. Anyone over age 18 living or working in La Cañada can receive the training and assist our first responders when an emergency arises. Sign-up is through our public safety coordinator, Peter Castro, at La Cañada City Hall. Call (818) 790-8880 or see the city web page for more information.

Q: You also volunteer doing advance work for the White House. What are the most far-flung locations that has taken you to, and what is your most memorable experience in doing that task?

A: I’ve been fortunate to travel across the country and around the world doing advance. Within the last year, my teams were in locations as diverse as the Vatican, Baghdad, and the Korean DMZ.

It’s tough to single one experience out, but a recent and very moving one was the dedication of the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Penn., on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Q: How did you get the opportunity to be on the president’s advance team?

A: I was recruited early in the Clinton Administration by a friend working at the White House. They were looking for folks with public relations and logistics management experience to supplement their professional staff, and my business background (apparel marketing and manufacturing) met their needs.

Q: You were part of the team coordinating the president’s visit to Los Angeles a few days ago. If the president should tell you he wants to visit La Cañada for the weekend, what itinerary would you suggest?

A: We have a host of great merchants and interesting things to do in La Cañada, but let’s assume his time is limited. President Obama is a basketball fan and a pretty good player, so I’d suggest he start the morning at the Crescenta-Canada Family YMCA for some three-on-three half-court. That would work up an appetite for breakfast at Dish, and an opportunity to visit with owner and fellow Occidental alum Kevin Finch. We could explain the city/school joint-use library program at La Cañada High School. Pick up some sandwiches at Berge’s and take a fresh-air lunch break at Descanso Gardens. Visit JPL for a briefing and tour of the amazing things our engineers and scientists are doing. Pick up a gourmet pizza from Hello Pizza for the ride to the airport.

Q: What quality do you most appreciate about La Cañada?

A: It’s the nicest small town in one of the biggest cities in the world.

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