Holding Our City Together: Talking With Three People at City Hall
By Hannah Martinez
I walked into City Hall, nervous about the interviews I was about to give. The receptionist directed me upstairs to my first appointment, which was with Mr. Conal McNamara, the head of City Planning and Community Building. I entered into Mr. McNamara’s office and he kindly welcomed me in and offered tea. We talked about many different things before I saw something on his whiteboard that caught my eye: “medical marijuana”. “How is your department planning on dealing with Prop 64?” I asked. I told him that I’d seen a dispensary for marijuana a few streets from my house, and he explained that while in unincorporated parts of Whittier marijuana shops were allowed, this was certainly not the case for Whittier. “We’re taking it a step at a time,” he said. “While we have to allow recreational plants to be kept for individual users because of Prop 64, we’re not opening up dispensaries anytime soon.” I then asked him about the difference between unincorporated and incorporated Whittier. “Whittier is all of Uptown and then a few streets that make up the historical district,” he said. “Unincorporated Whittier is everything else.”
Mr. McNamara also talked about redevelopment, a practice that was signed out of law by Governor Brown in 2012. It worked by purchasing a blight, or rundown property, and then getting a loan for its renovation. When it sold, the city or county would get its money back. I thought it was an ingenious idea, but Mr. McNamara shrugged. “Financial difficulties ended up killing it.”
Another thing I found interesting was code enforcement, which is almost like the police of zoning laws and requirements. They work to ensure code is obeyed, and especially to make sure incidents like renting out commercial buildings for living space doesn’t happen. I asked Mr. McNamara if that had ever happened, and he nodded. “There was a situation on Whittier Boulevard where someone had illegally converted a commercial building to rent it to undocumented immigrants,” he said. “It was pretty horrible.”
After, Mr. McNamara escorted me to Mr. Rigo Garcia’s office. Mr. Garcia is the head of the city clerk department, and he conducts city elections and referendums, as well as recalls. Another important part of Mr. Garcia’s job is to make sure there are no conflicts of interest in City Council. The city clerk department handled the agendas, reports, and communications between the council members as well as other cities. “Everything is black and white to us,” Mr. Garcia said when I asked about potential conflicts of interest or political clashes. “It’s either legal, or it’s not legal.” The major task of the department is to keep records for the city in case future councils need references, and to ensure that everything is kept fair and legal.
The last person I met with was Mr. Alfredo Hernandez, an engineering technician at City Hall. He helps to oversee everything that makes the city function. In fact, it was Mr. Hernandez who helped to design the Palm Park Trail, and currently he is working at Palm Park to fix a broken chunk of concrete. Mr. Hernandez plans to redo the City Hall tower, as he has already worked on renovating the lobby and installing a beautiful glass staircase. Mr. Hernandez originally worked part-time but rose to his position as time went by, and now works closely with engineers to ensure sewers, alleys, parking lots, streets and other public areas are safe for us to use as we please.
Happy Homecoming 2017
By Samantha Ortiz
This year's homecoming was held in the Ritz Gardens on Whittier’s First avenue. Illuminated with glowing green and blue lights the place was a pretty spectacular sight, which was great considering the line wait was a good 15 minutes.The place was not the only spectacular sight, and while not all heeded to the greek part of Greek royalty all were definitely dressed to impress. From dresses that shimmered and shined to smart looking shirts Cal students know how to show that they rule.
Once everyone was actually in the place it was the usual going through the movements of who was going to break the ice. Temporarily distracted with the treats offered everyone situated themselves at a table with close friends while attempting to not go deaf. Music blaring as a rather out of place background for the moment was an experience but soon everyone loosened up. This significantly livened up the mood though everyone packed onto the dancefloor made me wonder why it wasn’t made to have more space. Dance skill ranged from those who weren’t afraid to actually dance to those who merely swayed to those few guys that got lifted up onto their friends shoulders. Kudos to the guy that got lifted up by his friends only to slip back down 5 seconds later( I’m really hoping they caught you ‘cause that looked dangerous).
The night was great and honestly time passed by faster than I thought it would. From running into other friends, to dancing, to that cup of coffee and drank (making me super hyper) the night was pretty jam packed. The most amusing part of the whole night, besides the fact that halfway through plates became fans, was that through the years song playlists are still practically the same. Even at homecoming we’re all still listening to Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide, and Apple Bottom Jeans. They were mixed in with more recent songs so I guess that balanced things out. In the end, the night went well, despite cliche song choices, and who knows I might actually start regularly attending dances (doubtful though).
My Completely Uneventful Summer
By Samantha Ortiz
This summer was downtime filled by lazy days. Most of it was honestly spent sleeping, not that you want to read an article on that, or maybe you do. What do I know? Either way, let’s see if I got into something more interesting.
Over the summer, I went to Knott’s and Magic Mountain, which was cool, except that day during this summer was a million degrees, so it was also death. Not too bad a way to die if you ask me, but I digress. These amusement park trips were when I got to see my friends, as one of them was taking art over the summer and the other was at the Idyllwild Art Camp (which was admittedly pretty wicked).
On one of my trips to Magic Mountain (this was the summer of amusement parks, aka the summer I went broke) my cousins came with me. This was fine until they found out that Superman had reopened and darted across the park. What the rest of us didn’t know was the bag they were carrying had all our cell phones in it. We had just gotten off our ride when we made this discovery, and made the trip to the Superman ride hoping they were still there and not doomed to wander lost forever or something dramatic like that. In a rare burst of luck we found them where they said they’d be, and our day continued without any more issues.
That’s about it for my summer, nothing spectacular or apocalyptic. Just day after day of my ever worsening sleep schedule, which admittedly isn’t that great even now.
Three Little Pigs
By Alize Q. Woods
By Hannah Martinez
When people ask me what I did this summer I say a lot of things - a trip to Universal Studios, panicking about summer assignments, and catching up on some much needed sleep. But the most prominent thing I did this summer was get a job as a lifeguard at Palm Park. It’s a great first job and I had a lot of fun there. I worked everyday, guarding for recreation, lap swim, and private parties, as well as teaching lessons for the little kids in the evenings. It was one of my most rewarding experiences. While I wasn’t technically on staff and was “just a substitute”, I ended up getting a lot of hours as many people took week-long vacations, so much that I earned the award “Saving Your Shift!” My favorite part of the job was definitely the evening lessons, as the kids are adorable and many are just dying to learn how to swim. However, some weren’t as eager as others, and it was a huge accomplishment when they ventured underwater alone or jumped unassisted off the diving block. One of the kids, a boy named Daniel, would thank me after each lesson and give me a hug, which never failed to make my day.
One of the most interesting things that happened was when a gentleman began to have heart palpitations. Heart palpitations occur when your heart is beating too fast and too slow and as he was a diabetic, this was especially dangerous and caused him to collapse. My pool manager immediately called emergency medical services (EMS) on the scene. Many of the senior guards and the pool manager rushed to help him, and the rest worked on calming the crowds by getting the kids in the water and going about their lesson. When EMS arrived we helped get him on the stretcher, and my kids watched in awe as the ambulance pulled out of the small driveway. The gentleman made it out fine, and his family thanked us by giving us flowers and pie.
Another event was when I got “red-capped.” A red cap is when another lifeguard puts on a red cap and jumps in pretending to drown, and you have to save them. I was red-capped during the end of my second-to-last shift, and all I could feel was the adrenaline shooting through my veins as I blew my whistle and jumped in. I didn’t even take my sandals off!
Despite red-capping me, all of my coworkers were happy to be there and teach the kids, and weren’t afraid to help me and the other new guards if we tripped up. Overall, lifeguarding at Palm Park was amazing, and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.