Yes, everyone felt the shocks of 2017. It was an unusual year—some welcomed that, others fear the consequences to come. But how was your year and what are you looking forward to in 2018? We asked members of the Palisadian community. From political celebration to the birth of a first child—say goodbye to 2017, here it is—2018.
—John Harlow, Editor-in-Chief
The Republican Party is pleased with President Trump’s accomplishments, and we look forward to even greater success for the American people in 2018.
Republicans will continue to grow the economy, increase jobs, work on infrastructure, develop a clear-eyed national security strategy and champion American values around the world—all to help make America great again.
Our hope is that we can work together here in our community, to build understanding, accept and respect our political differences and demonstrate once again what democracy should look like in Pacific Palisades.
We plan to return to the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market and hope to work with our Democrat colleagues to build bridges of trust and understanding. We wish everyone a joyous and safe New Year!
Nancy Cohen, Pacific Palisades | Republican Club
The earthquake that Californians have feared struck last year, not in a geological form, but politically, in the election of Donald Trump. Not in our present history has such an eruption occurred, impacting the integrity and stability of our democracy.
The Occupy Movement was a harbinger of the social unrest that launched both the Trump and Bernie Sanders candidacies, fueled by the growing disparity of income where the top 1 percent of the population pocketed 85 percent of the post-recession income growth.
Candidate Trump understood populism and exploited the anxieties of growing diversity through the Birther Movement, with an openly racist platform and opposition to everything that the Obama administration proposed as a political strategy without considering the consequences to the country.
During his first year of presidency, Trump denied basic principles of climate change, obstructed important research, reduced funding and safeguards to the environment, science and health programs and alienated our closest allies. As a result of Trump’s excesses and narcissistic behavior, the Resist Movement was born to prevent the normalization of Trump and his administration’s actions.
One year ago, an estimated four million women, men and children showed up to march with their funny pink hats, in protest of the inauguration of Donald Trump and proclaimed their determination to pursue women’s equality, health and human rights.
Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the basic principles of Democracy puts us in dire jeopardy. The characteristics of autocracy are apparent: (1) Attack the press, judiciary, justice department and congress. (2) Attack proven facts and science. (4) Achieve personal gain through the presidency, in conflict with the emolument clause. (5) Autocratically insist that he alone is the decider.
The danger to be avoided for the sake of the nation would be for the Democratic Party to become the party of “no” as the Republican Party was during the Obama administration. Each legislative initiative should be evaluated on its merits and opposed or supported on that basis.
Yet, despite the attempt at deconstruction of our democratic institutions and programs by this administration, I am optimistic about 2018 for the future of the Democratic Party and its principles. All the elected officials that represent Pacific Palisades are Democrats who cherish our democracy and can be counted on to provide a bulwark to protect it.
The results of the last election that gave Hillary Clinton three million votes more than Trump may be an indication of the true values of the electorate, and the prospects of success in 2018 elections. The recent successes in Virginia and Alabama are promising omens.
Joe Halper, President Emeritus of the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club
Looking back on 2017 at Palisades Charter High School, a clear theme is apparent: building community through unity. Today’s rapidly changing environment frequently produces new, untested challenges, which can be stressful and counterproductive. Our school family is actively engaged in becoming more reflective and supportive of each other. Staff, students and parents agree on the significance of building relationships to better understand each other and to successfully navigate our constantly evolving world. PCHS has rallied together to ensure an inspired and fertile environment where all students are empowered to discover their passions and pursue their aspirations. An ongoing goal for our community is to model kindness, compassion and gratitude in all that we do. In 2018, Pali High will continue to build on our successes with a focus on strengthening our commitment to learning, health and innovation.
Dr. Pam Magee, Pali High Principal
The most momentous day for my family in 2017 was Oct. 23, when my first child was born. My wife Kimmy’s pregnancy and Isaac’s arrival were experiences that were both filled with love, and they were both out of my direct control.
Having a baby was its own master class in how to hold the things that we can’t control with some degree of equanimity and some degree of faith. As he’s gotten a couple of months older, he’s become cheerful, too. In fact, just laughing next to him can make him smile. And the name Isaac comes from the Hebrew word for laughter.
For me, it’s especially fitting that the Gregorian New Year falls in the darkest, shortest days of the year, and we mark these days with festivals of light and celebration. We also hold the promise of brighter days to come.
For the things out of my control, equanimity and faith have done a lot to carry me through this year. So I’ll try to hold 2018 with equanimity and faith. And a little laughter wouldn’t hurt either.
Rabbi Nick Renner, Assistant Rabbi | Kehillat Israel Reconstructionist Congregation
Politically, it’s been a bizarre year.
As an Independent, I’m struggling with the black and white nature of politics and the extreme beliefs that accompany both sides of the coin. We teach our children to compromise and we elect absolutists to represent us. I’d like to see a Congress with as many I’s as D’s and R’s. The truth is often found in the middle and yet there is no middle.
Professionally, my company (Wicked Cool Toys) relaunched Teddy Ruxpin, Cabbage Patch Kids and we partnered with Pokémon.
We now have three of the top 10 most important toy brands of all time. I’m proud of that. More wonderful announcements will come in 2018.
Personally, the family is healthy, the kids are still huggable and my wife is my best friend. So, I guess that balances out politics!
A plea to Caruso for 2018 …
Do not confuse achievement or wealth with fanciness. We need a community destination more than we need $5,000 suits. We’re organic Mayberry with expendable income and yoga pants. We’re family focused. We literally squeeze as many children into Café Vida as humanly possible, and when that’s packed we “force” ourselves to eat bagels (because carbs).
We want varied, casual meals, a great movie theater, organic fruit, delicious ice cream, coffee and fun. It’s perfectly acceptable to mix in the fanciness, but mix it in; don’t lead with it. Lead with family. OK and maybe there will be room in the closet for one of those suits. Just one.
Oh, and we’re ever grateful that you came along, Caruso.
Jeremy Padawer, Toy Entrepreneur
I turned 40 and it was a great reminder to pause for a moment—I’m actually living my dream, baking and creating for a living. It’s not without its challenges. It takes a lot of juggling and late nights, but Hello Honey grew a lot this year. I am so grateful for this community and its support. I am very excited for 2018. It will be even more sweet, filled with cakes, cookies and hands-on decorating parties. They bring so much joy and I’m hoping to meld cake making and my love of giving back somehow. Stay tuned!
CC Mauch, Hello Honey
This Christmas Day my two oldest kids and I went to Los Angeles Family Housing to help serve a holiday meal to people experiencing homelessness.
This is not usually how we spend Christmas Day.
Last year, we went for a beach walk then hurried home to prepare for family joining us for lunch and gift giving. The year before we went for a hike at Temescal Canyon before gathering for gifts and cookies with friends, and the year before that, we were in Utah for surgery from a ski accident the year prior.
The holiday season—particularly Christmas Day for our a-religious household—is usually about family, fun and friends. I infuse the gifts and sugar with nature and thankfulness, but the winter holidays are usually about the gluttony of gifts.
There are always three separate wish lists from three kids, a mantra that restates what each wants to see under our modest tree and the anxious awaiting of the burgeoning pile beneath the well-lit fir.
Since there is no religion prevalent in our household (conversation for another day), I have over the years, adopted this holiday season as a time to pronounce for my kids the spirit of giving along with a tradition of family and kindness that is rooted in history and culture.
This year the gluttony of gift giving was weighing on me.
As my kids grow into their teens, they are becoming better aware of the challenging world around them, but also more aware of the trappings of wealth.
Wish lists this year included brands like Gucci and Supreme.
Brows furrowed, I declared a present-less Christmas and promised my kids the gift of experiencing something new.
For my daughter, this included a chance to sing on the Alice Tully Hall stage at Lincoln Center in NYC. For my youngest son, it was the opportunity to play for the half-time show at a Lakers game and for my middle son, it was a trip to a family homeless center to serve a Christmas meal. Needless to say, he was less than pleased.
I learned about the LAFH in October when I was asked by the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club to arrange a town hall addressing housing.
LAFH came and gave a heartwarming presentation about the challenges of family homelessness, and invited me for a tour of their facilities.
Around the same time, First Lady Amy Elaine Wakeland invited all City Commissioners who serve on the Commission on the Status of Women to join her for an opportunity to serve lunch at LAFH. I joined the first lady and met the director of LAFH, Stephanie Klasky-Gamer.
After the lunch service, Klasky-Gamer and I chatted about the challenges of female homelessness, and about raising daughters who seem sometimes to be struggling for the same rights as our mothers did.
Klasky-Gamer informed me that her mom sat on the same commission I sit on today, and that some of the same conversation she recalls having with her then, she now has with her daughters. I shared with her that I have the same conversations with my (very informed) daughter.
To my glee, Klasky-Gamer hosted my kids and I on Christmas Day when we helped serve lunch to people experiencing homelessness. My son ended up doing some dishes, cleaning trays of food and rinsing sinks in a way he would never do at home.
He also got to serve a plate of food and then pie to people he wouldn’t normally have a chance to interact with.
The car ride home, to a house full of food, decorated holiday cookies and family members bearing gifts, was replete with conversation.
We talked about humanity and dignity, disappointment and triumph, perseverance and the random chance of luck in life.
By the time we got home, I’m sure my kids had a perspective they didn’t have when we left the same home just a few hours earlier. Mission accomplished; and a Happy Holidays to all.
Maryam Zar, Chair, Pacific Palisades Community Council
I grew up a lot in 2017. So does everybody in their 17th year: The angst that built as we entered our teens to matter, to be liked and to declare our identity ebbs and is overtaken by a stronger cocktail of confidence, contentment, direction and other cliché, coming-of-age tokens.
But in 2017, everyone had to grow up a little more, as disaster after disaster rocked our country and the world. Ignoring them became impossible: We went from watching the national news in dismay to wiping ash from our windshields, which fell like powdery white snow in California this Christmas. High-schoolers contemplated the very real possibility that the world is ending while we were simultaneously, ironically, prepping for comparatively trivial standardized tests, soccer practices and rehearsals.
And now 2018 nears, with all of its untouched brilliance and endless possibilities. As much as I have been trying to resist formulating seemingly doable but ultimately unrealistic and disappointing New Year’s resolutions (to take myself more seriously, drink eight glasses of water and other doctor-ordered steps to life-togetherness), I can’t help it! My hopes are high, and I just know this is going to be my biggest, boldest, best year yet.
Joanna Shepherd, Palisadian-Post Intern
Looking back on 2017, it’s certainly been a wild year in national politics, but I’m happy to report that in Sacramento we were able to forge bipartisan deals on a diverse range of pressing issues that matter to Californians: increasing affordable housing, improving electoral campaign transparency, improving our road and public transportation infrastructure, protecting public lands, and maintaining California’s leadership role in the fight against climate change. I’m proud that my district office was able to meaningfully interact with thousands of constituents in the past year, facing a wide range of issues and needs, from assisting small business owners interfacing with government and veterans needing to access benefits, to honoring meritorious community members by preparing congratulatory certificates and responding to comments and suggestions from folks living in every one of our district’s communities. Personally, this year I married my smart, kind and beautiful wife Melanie and am grateful for the support of family and friends. In 2018, I look forward to working on legislation that will seek to protect California taxpayers in the wake of the federal tax bill, improve the way we finance education, strengthen environmental protections and improve quality of life for our community.
Ben Allen, State Senator for the 26th District
The past year brought lots of professional accomplishments for me and made me even hungrier for more unimaginable things for 2018. My documentary film, “Requiem for My Mother,” premiered on over 200 PBS stations on Mother’s Day and was seen in over 80 percent of the U.S.
The film won the Audience Award at the CATE festival in Santa Monica and screened at AmDOCS in Palm Springs.
The music CD from “Requiem for My Mother” made the Billboard Classical charts and stayed on for 11 weeks, peaking at No. 3, and continues to sell. “Requiem” was recognized at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in November and won the award for Best Contemporary Classical/Instrumental Composition.
I scored two feature films and contributed music to several hit TV shows.
I caught the movie-making “bug,” and am developing and co-producing a fascinating WWII story that takes place in Rome, a micro-budget millennial ensemble piece, and am starting a new music company with a few Palisadian partners.
In 2018, I plan on releasing another CD called “A Choral Odyssey” (which is a compilation of choral works I’ve composed over the last 15 years and I’m submitting for Grammy consideration), get at least two of the films I’m developing produced, have a successful launch of our new music company, and score more films and TV shows.
As I get older (and hopefully a little wiser) I appreciate even more the richness and depth of the accomplishments of my teenage daughters (19 and 16) and all the artists around me—in film, TV and in the music world.
The fact that anybody pays me to do what I love still amazes me and makes me more and more thankful.
I get to do what I love and every day the experience becomes richer.
Stephen Edwards, Composer
For dog-lovers, 2017 was the “Year of Mike.” After viewing Leslie Campbell’s 3,000-signature petition requesting a dog park in Pacific Palisades, Councilmember Mike Bonin introduced a motion forming a Pacific Palisades Dog Park Working Group (PPDPWG). The Palisades Park Advisory Board, headed by Mike Skinner, passed a supporting motion, which was sent directly to Mike Shull, general manager of LA Recreation & Parks.
Despite massive budget cuts, Shull agreed to help when he learned that the PPDPWG would fundraise the construction and maintenance of the dog park. Within six months, a site was selected and an initial design drafted by Recreation & Parks. The site, on the side of Temescal Canyon Road, had been previously proposed by another group, Palisades Advocates for Dogs, 10 years ago.
So what makes the Palisades Dog Park Working Group different from all the other past efforts? It has to be Mike.
Lynn Hylen, Palisades Dog Park Activist
From the beginning, it has been important to PPTFH that we measure our performance. We have achieved a 50 percent reduction in the number of homeless individuals in our community, and 73 percent of our resident homeless individuals are in transitional or permanent supportive housing. We have reduced the number of occupied homeless encampments from 57 to five. These remarkable accomplishments are due to The People Concern’s diligent, skilled, professional, compassionate, “whatever-it-takes” commitment to helping persons that are physically and/or mentally vulnerable. We know we can’t help everyone … but we plan to keep working at it.
We’ve held community meetings every other month to discuss various aspects of homelessness. We’ve overhauled our website. We’ve collaborated with Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice and Westwood to coordinate our efforts and make sure none of us are simply “pushing the problem to other neighborhoods.” And we’ve done “CLEANups” of the bluffs and city parklands to remove abandoned encampments.
In 2018 we look forward to sustaining our efforts because we know it’s working. But we plan to have more focus on helping the “service-resistant.” And we plan to work more closely with those who want to volunteer to help. Please join us.
All of this makes me proud to call myself a Palisadian.
Doug McCormick, Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness President
From my chair emeritus seat in 2017, I watched the Pacific Palisades Community Council Board take on myriad issues affecting Palisadians. Controversies large and small were considered and positions were, at times, taken on diverse topics such as motorcycle gang activity, beach patrol and overnight curfew preservation, Village project hauling, the proposed Village Shell Station mini-mart and Highlands eldercare facility, alcohol permits for local businesses, the pole-top distributing stations, cannabis regulation and impacts on youth, the new Post signs, and state legislation (SB 649) to eliminate local cell tower regulation (sensibly vetoed by Gov. Brown at the urging of PPCC and many others).
Individual board members also “took to the streets” during 2017 with efforts to preserve and protect the community. They worked with local officials to tackle ongoing problems such as dangerous standing water along Palisades Drive, illegal or unsightly dumping, pedestrian safety, pothole repairs, and street and bluffs beautification, cleanup and stabilization. A shout-out is due to CD11 Deputy Lisa Cahill for her effective assistance.
The council remained active during 2017 as one of 13 members of the Westside Regional Alliance of Councils, working together to address regional and local concerns. The year also saw formation of PPCC’s Land Use Committee, with its mission “to help standardize and professionalize” the board’s consideration of land use related issues … and December featured the tradition of honoring our amazing community volunteers at PPCC’s 2017 Awards Gala.
I predict no let-up on issues facing us in 2018. The Los Angeles City Council is poised to act on pending measures such as short-term rentals, accessory dwelling units (granny flats), sidewalk vending, additional cannabis regulations, sign ordinance and zoning code revision, and more. We can expect additional laws intended to address homelessness and the affordable housing crisis that may impact our residential neighborhoods and general quality of life. I and other PPCC members will continue to monitor.
My wish list for 2018: In the coming months, revisions to our local cell tower regulations to expand notice and aesthetic protections—long advocated by PPCC and WRAC—will finally be adopted; this summer, the eagerly awaited Caruso Palisades Village project will be completed and enjoyed by Palisadians; by year’s end, the PRIDE-led Village “harmonization” effort will be substantially launched; and most importantly, the entire year will bring continued blessings to all who are fortunate to live and work in our extraordinary Palisades community!
Chris Spitz, PPCC Chair Emeritus
My 2017 saw the implementation of the FAA’s Southern California Next Gen Metroplex flight paths. Much of the year was spent:
1. Analyzing charts and data provided by both the FAA and the Los Angeles World Airports in order to determine what had actually changed.
2. Communicating and meeting with the Senators Feinstein and Harris’ Field Representatives, Congressman Lieu’s Field Representative, Councilmember Bonin’s Airport Liaison and the LAWA Noise Management Team, among others.
3. Communicating with neighbors about the aircraft noise issue.
4. Raising funds to pay for Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association’s legal challenge to the FAA’s ruling that the change in flight plans would not be a significant impact to the people on the ground.
Lastly, I also received a Golden Sparkplug Award from the PPCC for my efforts!
Debbie Warfel, Community Organizer, Golden Sparkplug
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