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A Family’s Coping Guide to Down Syndrome

For parents, those mysterious minutes before the birth of a child and the deliriously joyful moments after the baby enters the world are preamble to a lifelong relationship. For Deborah and Andy Bogen, daughter Elizabeth’s birth brought with it the happiness of seeing her safely delivered followed by the bewildering news that she had Down Syndrome. The most critical moments for the Bogens were those filled by the words, both good and bad, offered by hospital staff which would lodge deep inside their vulnerable hearts. The obstetrician’s heartless warning not to get too attached to Liz because they might want to consider institutionalizing her stung the new couple to the core. It was the loving words that the couple would repeat over and over as they began the challenge of raising their daughter. The Filipina nurse on duty told Deborah that in her country children like Liz were considered a blessing in the family and that the whole community would take a hand in raising this special child. And the pediatrician offered the Santa Monica Canyon couple firm hope. “You are going to take her home and love her, and she will give you back more love than you can imagine,” he said. “You will nurse her and do all the things we talked of last month in my office.” Deborah and Andy set out on a course of raising their special child, building on positive attitudes that would make the job easier and surrounding themselves with knowledgeable people and helpful counsel that would give them some much needed relief. That first year, now 25 years ago, Deborah began a diary that chronicled the steps the Bogens took to get Liz moving into the mainstream of life. Deborah’s diary, serious, funny and filled with vignettes from the family’s life together, has been compiled in a new book “But Will She Be a Brownie? Lessons from a Daughter with Down Syndrome,” which she has intended as a workbook for other families to read, scribble notes in and refer to often. Deborah and Liz will be talking about their experiences and sign copies of the book on Wednesday, March 3 at 7 p.m. at Village Books, 1049 Swarthmore. From the very start, the Bogens counted their blessings, which included a supportive extended family, living in a city rich in resources for their daughter; having funds to pay for extra help and respite care if needed, Elizabeth’s good health (often children with Down Syndrome have heart and lung complications that require multiple surgeries at a young age); and being resourceful people themselves. When Liz was born, there were few books on the subject, and none that considered the child with Down Syndrome from infancy through independence. “This book was something I really needed to write over a long period of time,” Deborah says. “It’s written in a very plain style, without a lot of jargon, and, very user friendly.” While Deborah follows Liz’s life from the early, getting-organized days, through school days (first at University Elementary School, followed by Santa Monica public schools), to independent living, she doesn’t flinch from revealing her own missteps. “When Elizabeth was born, I had been a teacher of special education for over 10 years. Still when the teachers instructed me in how to help her, I was all thumbs,” she writes. And in her eagerness to “stimulate” Liz, Deborah would often keep up a steady chatter while driving along to encourage her verbal skills.”I remember we were driving along San Vicente and I was telling her all about the coral trees,” Deborah recalls. “Finally, Liz said, ‘Mom, that’s really enough, I’m already talking.’ She was already 3-1/2 or 4 and I’m such a literal person. I didn’t know when to stop.” Early on, Deborah had a feeling that Liz would be strong in the area of language, which she attributes to having developed her cheek and tongue muscles while breast feeding. Her teachers in the Exceptional Children’s Foundation’s Infant Program encouraged families to look for areas of strength in their babies, so Deborah decided to push the language envelope, as she says. Over time, Liz did develop exceptional language skills, which has helped her in establishing friendships, negotiating the public transportation system and working at a job. While language was strong, she was born with extreme hypotonia (low muscle tone) and needed much work in muscle development-balance, sitting up and eventually walking. Apart from helping Liz develop physically, Deborah assisted her in acclimating to the world outside, making friends and navigating her social life. “You have to be prepared to do more than you may like, but it smooths the way for your kid,” Deborah says. “You do extra things even if you were never that kind of person. You have to grease the wheels for her. You have to understand that you will invite more friends over than she will ever get invited.” It was important that other kids knew that Liz and her family were more like others than not. Kids needed to see that Liz had a younger brother, Michael, and a dog and that she played with Barbie. The Bogens as a family did a lot of things with her that other girls do, including watching proudly as she was inducted into the Brownies. Over the course of writing the book, Deborah read portions and got feedback with her friends in her writing circle, and after each chapter was completed, she had Liz read it and add her own comments, which she has done in most chapters. Liz has become an active participant in advocacy and education for people with Down Syndrome. She sits on the board of the Santa Monica Commission for Disability Rights and has served on the board of Best Buddies, the organization started by Anthony Shriver that matches up typical college students with high school students with developmental disabilities. She is a frequent speaker and guest on the local public access TV station in Santa Monica. These days, Liz lives in a condominium not far from the Bogens’ home in the Canyon with assistance from her companion Lucy, who helps her with meals and housekeeping. She takes the bus to her job at Goodwill Industries on Wilshire at Barrington five days a week. Liz and Deborah are deeply connected. Liz calls every morning at 7:30 to check in and is never far from her mother’s heart. “I tell her my secrets, my worries,” Deborah writes in the book. “Often she is my counselor. Who would have thought it? She looms large and takes up a lot of space-a high maintenance kid. Were it not for her, what would I have put in her place?” For more information, visit www.deborahbogen.com

Susan Love and Helen Cooksey Join Their Hearts in San Francisco

Dr. Susan M. Love and Dr. Helen Sperry Cooksey never doubted that some day, after two decades together, they would be able to legalize their same-sex union with a marriage certificate. But they didn’t quite foresee the frenzied rush to San Francisco, the eight hours waiting in line in the rain and the slim odds officials gave them of ever entering a City Hall already overwhelmed by other couples with the same goal. Nonetheless, Love, a retired surgeon and author of books on breast cancer and menopause, refused to give up. And Cooksey was equally determined.While Love stood in one line, Cooksey stood in another, to hedge their bets. “They told us there was no way we were going to make it in time to get married but we stayed in line anyway,” Cooksey said. “They told people to go home and a lot did, but we stayed in line anyway. Finally they said we had only a one percent chance of getting there in time for a marriage certificate-but we stayed in line anyway and now we are married.” Love and Cooksey were married on February 15 in the rotunda of San Francisco City Hall in a ceremony presided over by Michael R Farrah Jr., Senior Advisor to the Mayor. The couple’s 15-year-old daughter, Katie, witnessed the ceremony which finally legalized their 21-year relationship. “I wasn’t sure what to think when my moms picked me up at a friend’s house on Saturday morning and said we were heading to San Francisco so they could get married, but I am very happy that we did it,” Katie said. Love is a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is the author of “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book” and “Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book,” one of the founding mothers of the breast cancer advocacy movement, a Founder of ProDuct Health (now part of Cytyc, Inc.) and president of the Susan Love Research Foundation. She got her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, her medical degree from SUNY Downstate Medical Center and an MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA. Cooksey is a general surgeon at the Jeffrey Goodman Clinic of the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California in Santa Barbara, a master’s in fine arts from Harvard University and her medical degree from Harvard Medical School. Both women trained as surgeons at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, the place where they first met when Cooksey was the intern taking care of Love’s mother. It was several years later, when Helen invited Susan to New Hampshire over Labor Day weekend, that they fell in love. They both practiced surgery in Boston until Love was recruited by UCLA to come to California. No strangers to gay and lesbian civil rights, their court case to allow Cooksey to adopt their daughter went to the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1993, setting an early precedent for second parent adoption. “We are used to fighting for our rights, so standing in line for a few hours was a small price to pay to be able to finally wed,” Cooksey said. Love is the daughter of James Love, a retired businessman in Mexico City, and the late Margaret Schwab Love. Cooksey is the daughter of the late Donald Cooksey, a founder and former associate director of the Radiation Laboratory (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory) at Berkeley and the late Milicent Sperry Cooksey of Berkeley. The couple lives in the Palisades. Although they had undergone a civil union in Vermont in 2002, they had always wanted to be able to be legally married. Friday’s morning paper announced that the City of San Francisco was legally marrying same sex couples and at an early Valentine’s dinner Friday night Susan asked Helen to marry her. They decided to elope the next day and with their daughter jumped on a plane to San Francisco. “It was truly a ‘Rosa Parks moment’,” said Love. “You got the feeling you were part of history in the making and that there was no way they are going to turn the clock back.” In spite of the frenzied hours building up to it, the marriage ceremony itself was a moment of deep emotion for the couple. “I never thought I would be able to stand up in public and marry the love of my life,” said a teary Love. “It really does make a difference.”

Michel Fountain, Dean Bennett Exchange Vows in the Palisades

Michel Marie Fountain, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rex Edward Fountain Jr. of Palos Verdes Estates, and Dean Wesley Bennett, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Thrift Bennett Sr. of Shell Beach, were married on September 20 in the Palisades. Melanie Davis and Melinda Gormley, sisters of the bride, were the matrons of honor. Bradley Quigley, longtime friend of the bridegroom, was the best man. The bride’s attendants included Michele Borovac, the groom’s sister-in-law, Kathleen Kern, the bride’s cousin, Lisa Singelyn and Jill Wetton, USC sorority sisters of the bride. The bridegroom’s attendants were his brothers, Stephen Jr. and William, Robert Brockley Jr., Bryan Vance and Michael Hogan. Pastor Michael Rehak, a friend of the bridegroom’s family, traveled from Wisconsin to perform the ceremony. A gala reception was held immediately following the ceremony at the bride’s grandmother’s home in Riviera, which was also the location for the wedding receptions of the bride’s parents and her sisters.

Victor Olson, 84; Former Resident

Munthe Victor “Vic” Olson, who was an involved citizen of Pacific Palisades for about 40 years, died January 26 in San Clemente. He was 84. Born in Illinois, Olson grew up in Iowa. During World War II, he served in the Marines as a dive bomber pilot in the Pacific and eventually rose to the rank of captain. After the war, he lived and worked as a building contractor for many years in Pacific Palisades. Olson was an active member of the Palisades Methodist Church, a past president of the Palisades Optimist Club, and during the mid- to late ’50s was the Scoutmaster of Palisades Boy Scout Troop 90. He organized and led many memorial Sierra wilderness backpack adventures for his family and scout troop members, including the summit of Mt. Whitney and the daunting 63-mile “Silver Moccasin” trek. After moving from the Palisades in 1987, Olson owned and operated an avocado ranch in Pauma Valley for a number of years before retiring to Palm Desert. He had just moved to San Clemente last November. On January 31, a memorial service was well attended by his family members, Optimist Club friends, fellow WW II veteran buddies, and former Troop 90 members, who all celebrated Vic Olson’s life by sharing favorite memories. He is survived by his wife, Leonora, whom he married in 1998; two children, Hugh Olson of Tacoma, Washington, and Gretchen Kriwanek of Murrieta; six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Phyllis.

Weir Defends Title

Mike Weir used precise iron shots and nerves of steel to hold off Shigeki Maruyama and win the Nissan Open for the second straight year.
Mike Weir used precise iron shots and nerves of steel to hold off Shigeki Maruyama and win the Nissan Open for the second straight year.

When it comes to the Nissan Open, seven is Mike Weir’s lucky number. He was down seven strokes on the final day last year before battling back to beat Charles Howell III in a playoff. He was up seven strokes on Sunday and held off Shigeki Maruyama to become the first repeat champion at Riviera Country Club since Corey Pavin in 1995. It was the first time in six attempts on the PGA Tour that Weir won when leading or tied after 54 holes. “This is a big win for a couple of reasons,” Weir said afterward. “Until today, I’d never defended a title before and I’d never won with a lead. So I had a lot to prove to myself.” At 17-under par, Weir won by one stroke over Maruyama and by three over Stuart Appleby. The winner’s check of $864,000 was the highest in the tournament’s 78-year history and $54,000 more than he received last year, but Weir’s primary concern afterwards was not about where to spend his money or put the trophy he held aloft during the victory ceremony. Instead, his first priority was finding shelter from the rain, which started as a drizzle and built to a downpour throughout his round. Once indoors and dry, Weir had time to reflect on his accomplishment and admitted it was harder playing from ahead Sunday than it had been to come from behind a year ago. “It was easier last year because the pressure was off,” Weir admitted. “Today, I tried to play it smart. But you can be more aggressive when you’re behind. Shigeki got on a roll and some of the putts that were falling for me earlier in the week weren’t dropping today. I still shot even par, which isn’t that bad on this course and in these conditions, yet it was barely enough.” Weir began the round five shots ahead, then birdied two of the first three holes to increase his lead. But as the weather worsened and ominous gray clouds turned into a downpour by early afternoon, Maruyama whittled away at Weir’s advantage until he pulled even with a birdie putt on 16. Both players parred the 17th, setting the stage for a one-hole showdown. Maruyama missed the fairway on his tee shot at Riviera’s famed 18th hole, which was altered slightly for the tournament. His third shot skimmed well past the flag and stopped off the edge of the green. Weir’s 25-foot chip shot from the rough caught a good lie and rolled within inches of the cup. “My mentality was that Shigeki was going to make his shot as well as he’d been playing,” Weir said. “So I had to try to win it right there and if I missed, hopefully I’d be close enough to save par.” The crowd groaned when Maruyama pushed his par attempt a foot wide of the hole and roared its applause moments later when Weir calmly tapped in to defend his title. And it was praise well-deserved, for Weir had posted the lowest score at Riviera in 14 years. In fact, his four-day total of 267 was three shy of the 72-hole course record set by Lanny Wadkins in 1985. “I didn’t think about the weather or about my inability to hold a lead,” said Weir, who grew up in Canada and recognized several Canadian flags pledging their allegiance to his cause throughout the week. “You can’t play defense in golf. You’ve got to be able to handle whatever the opponents and mother nature throw at you. I know Shigeki said I had an advantage in cold weather being that I’m from Canada, but we all play under tough conditions at various tournaments, so I don’t think that was a factor.” Attendance increased each day and even afternoon showers didn’t keep 30,925 spectators from lining the galleries in trench coats and umbrellas to watch Sunday’s final-round drama unfold. “I’m disappointed that I lost but I’m happy that I was at least able to catch Mikey and make it interesting,” Maruyama said. “I didn’t think I’d have a chance until I pulled even at the 16th. That was the first time I got a little excited.” Maruyama shot a 64 on Thursday and a 66 on Friday. Weir shot just the opposite and the two were tied at a record-tying 12-under at the halfway point of the tournament. Also in contention were Appleby, Jeff Maggert, Briny Baird, Scott McCarron and 2000 Nissan Open champion Kirk Triplett. Making the cut for a record 117th time was small consolation for the world’s No. 1 player, Tiger Woods, who remained winless in nine tries at Riviera (two as an amateur and seven as a professional). He shot one over par on Thursday and again on Saturday, leaving him 14 shots behind with one round left. Like last year, Woods made a furious charge on the final day but it was too late to catch the leaders. He parred the first two holes, birdied seven of the next nine, then double-bogeyed the 12th. Woods birdied four of the next five holes and closed with a bogey on 18 to finish seven-under-par for the day and 10-under for the tournament. He shot a final round 65 last year and tied for fifth. His best Nissan Open finish was second in 1998 when he lost in a playoff to Billy Mayfair, but that was at Valencia Country Club in Santa Clarita. “I love this golf course, how can you not?” Woods said of Riviera. “It’s a lot more fun when the it’s hard and fast but this year the weather just didn’t cooperate. Last year it was hard and fast and you saw what the scores were. Single digits won. It’s totally different this year. You can take dead aim and let it fly and you know the ball is just going to plunk.” Fan favorite John Daly, fresh off a win at the Buick Invitational–his first PGA Tour victory since 1995–finished four shots off the pace at -13 and received a standing ovation from the gallery after a birdie on his last hole Sunday. “The support was great and I felt it out there,” Daly said. “It feels good to come here and put together another solid round. I feel like my game’s come back and I’ve played some good golf here the last two weeks.” Carl Pettersson hit the only hole in one of the week, and the first on the PGA Tour this year, Friday at the par-three 14th hole. He playfully tossed his ball into the gallery after his tee shot from 176 yards away landed on the green and rolled in. Weir’s 54-hole total was one shot better than the previous three-day record set by Fred Couples in 1990. Weir became the sixth player to win the tournament twice in a row and the third player to win back-to-back at Riviera. The others were Ben Hogan in 1947-48 and Pavin in 1994-95. MacDonald Smith won what was first known as the Los Angeles Open at Wilshire Country Club in 1928 and repeated the following year at Riviera. Paul Harney and Arnold Palmer each won back-to-back in the 1960s when the tournament was played at Rancho Municipal Golf Course. Asked to compare his two victories, Weir admitted Sunday’s meant more. “What makes this win more gratifying is that I had to dig deep when Shigeki was making a charge. The adrenaline was flowing more than it would have been if I was running away with it. Not to say I wouldn’t have like to win by 10. I would’ve. It just didn’t happen that way.”

Soccer Nets First-Round Win

The only concern Palisades High goalie Laura Bailey had before last Friday afternoon’s first round City Section girls playoff game was that her team might play down to the level of the opponent. Coach Kim Smith dismissed that possibility in the pre-game huddle, imploring her players to “put the ball in the back of the net.” The Dolphins did just that three times to beat 30th-seeded Verdugo Hills 3-1 and advance to yesterday’s round of 16 against 14th-seeded Kennedy. If victorious, Pali will host either sixth-seeded Chatsworth or 11th-seeded Marshall in the quarterfinals Friday at 3 p.m. Showing no signs of complacency, third-seeded Palisades took control from the first whistle as Alex Michael intercepted a pass on the kickoff and fed a through ball to Lucy Miller for a breakaway chance 10 seconds into the game. Winger Nicole Angrisani scored the Dolphins’ first goal in the 14th minute when her well-placed cross carried over the goalie’s head. “I was actually just looking to center it,” Angrisani said. “But when I saw the goalie reaching for it I realized it might go in and that’s even better.” Freshman Sara Newman re-directed a cross from Lauren Cutler over the goal line for a 2-0 Pali lead in the 27th minute. Tia Lebherz booted a direct free kick from the top of the penalty area off of the left post and into the net for the Dolphins’ final goal nine minutes into the second half. Verdugo Hills scored on a penalty kick by Roxanne Garcia in the 76th minute. Bailey credited defender Diana Grubb with getting Pali in the right playoff mindset. “We found out we were seeded No. 3 and Diana said ‘Hey, we can win this thing.’ That was a real eye-opener. Now we’re approaching every game like we’re going to win.” Boys Soccer Palisades forward Rafael Martinez scored in the third minute, but fifth-seeded San Pedro responded with four unanswered goals to win 4-1 last Thursday and deal the Dolphins their 11th first-round playoff loss in the last 12 seasons. “We were only down 2-1 at halftime but were a good team and they turned it up in the second half,” PaliHi senior Kevin Seto said. Palisades was seeded 28th out of 32 playoff teams and finished 5-6-3. Girls Basketball Pali coach Kevin Hall thought his team belonged in the City Invitational playoffs, not the championship division. Sure enough, the young and inexperienced Dolphins’ first-round game at Crenshaw proved to be a mismatch. The second-seeded Cougars capitalized on numerous Pali mistakes and missed free throws to build a 12-point halftime lead, then used a 20-4 run midway through the second half to take command en route to a 78-35 victory. Seeded 15th out of 16 teams, the Dolphins finished 11-12. Boys Basketball D’Andre Bell had 22 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks, Carl Robertson had 12 points and four assists and Jared Cooper added nine points for the 11th-seeded Dolphins, who lost to fifth-seeded Crenshaw 79-52 last Friday night in the first round of the City playoffs. “Whatever I scored wasn’t enough because we didn’t win,” Bell said. “There are some positives we can take from this season but overall it was only satisfactory. It was a ‘C.'” The host Cougars (18-6) built a 35-22 halftime lead that proved more than Palisades (15-10) could overcome. “We dug a hole for ourselves that we just couldn’t get out of,” point guard Corey Counts said.

Dolphins in Revenge Mode

Most teams would be thrilled to reach the City Section finals. But the Palisades High boys tennis team sets higher standards than most and last season’s loss to El Camino Real in the championship match is all the motivation the Dolphins need to return to the finals and win. “I thought we might be a year away [from the finals] last year but we made it through,” Palisades High coach Bud Kling said. “This was the year I thought we’d win it. Of course, a lot has changed since June.” One change is that the Dolphins won’t have access to Palisades Recreation Center for their practices due to maintenance work on two courts. Kling will have to make due with two courts on campus (adjacent to the PaliHi baseball field) and, he hopes, a court at Temescal Canyon School and courts at Rustic Canyon. “Fortunately, we’ll still be able to play our matches at the park,” Kling said. “Heidi [Wessels] at the Palisades Tennis Center has been very cooperative and is going to try to adjust their clinics on days we have matches.” Though No. 1 doubles player Eric Young graduated, a returning starter moved out of the area and another quit the team, the Dolphins’ nucleus remains intact. The top of Pali’s lineup will be the same as a year ago, with junior Chris Ko and sophomore Ben Tom again playing No. 1 and No. 2 singles. “I have high expectations,” said Ko, who rolled an ankle in last year’s finals and had to forfeit three sets. “What we lacked to win it all last year was depth but I think we’ll have more of that. I just hope that if we make it to the finals I don’t get hurt and have to watch from the grass. I want to be out there playing.” Tom switched from a two-handed to a one-handed forehand at last year’s Sectionals and has been fine-tuning that stroke ever since. “I suffered a big drop in my play at first, but my game is starting to come back now. I feel I can hit bigger shots now, I’m just not as comfortable or consistent yet.” Senior team captains Taylor Robinson and Ryan Kling are confident the Dolphins can make it back to the finals. “Hopefully Chris will stay healthy. Ben is good, Ariel [Oleynik] is good and we have a lot of good doubles guys,” Ryan Kling said. “Sure, we lost a few guys, but we have some other guys to take their place.” “It’s true that our reputation precedes us, and that definitely makes us more determined to win,” added Robinson, who will likely play No. 1 or No. 2 doubles. “If we learned one thing from last year, it’s that we have to stay focused even if we’re behind in a match. We got down mentally [in the finals] last year when Chris got hurt and we never really recovered.” Oleynik and sophomore Stephen Surjue will rotate in the third and fourth singles spots. Pali’s doubles combinations are not set, but Robinson, Darya Bakhtiar, Daniel Burge and Sephir Sepehr Safii will likely make up the top two teams with Daniel Yoo, John Kang, Brian Pak, Hyung Suk Lee, Josh Kim, Neema Ghiasi and freshmen Mason Hays and Michael Light are all candidates for the No. 3 spot. “El Camino Real is still the team to beat,” Bud Kling said. “They have the advantage of playing other strong teams in their league like Taft, Cleveland and Granada Hills. Our league usually isn’t as strong and that’s why I beefed up our schedule.” Palisades opens the season tomorrow at the Central California Tournament in Fresno. The Dolphins play in the Division I draw against Wasco at 10 a.m., either Lincoln or Rio Americano at 1 p.m. and either Clovis West or Palo Alto at 4 p.m. Teams are then re-seeded for Saturday’s elimination round. Nonleague matches against Southern Section schools Loyola, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica should prepare Pali for league play and beyond. “The City championship is within our reach,” Tom said. “We want ECR again. We know what they have. Getting back to the finals won’t be a disappointment but of course we want to win it. A lot will depend upon how much we improve.”

Few Listings, High Demand Creates A Rare Palisades Real Estate Market

This property at 300 Aderno Way overlooks the Bel-Air Bay Club and has 180-degree ocean views. Asking price: $2,495,000. “Great potential for building your dream home, or remodel existing 4-bedroom, 3-bath home,” says Coldwell Banker agent Greta Hunt. Photo: Laura York

What happens in a real estate market where the demand greatly exceeds the supply, which is currently the case in Pacific Palisades? How does the lack of sufficient inventory affect the 300 real estate agents working this area? And what does it do to housing prices? Could it be we are in for a market “crash,” but in a way no one imagined? Just how low can the inventory go? What if there were no homes for sale in the Palisades? “Impossible!” was the overwhelming response of half-a-dozen local realtors contacted by the Palisadian-Post. However, they also said they never imagined inventory being as low as it is now. Currently, there are approximately 50 homes on the market in the Palisades, compared to 82 a year ago. Median price: $2.5 million. Over that price, “there is a five-to-six month supply of houses,” said Coldwell Banker’s Michael Edlen, who has been keeping statistics on the Palisades housing market since 1986. However, under that price, “we have less than a month of inventory at the current rate of sales. So we’re likely to continue to see multiple offers, especially under $2 million.” With housing inventory at a 20-year low, the Palisades real estate market has changed considerably in recent months. Dozens of buyers, many of whom are moving up and are able to pay all cash, find themselves participating in bidding wars in which houses are simply sold to the highest bidder. Traditional real estate evaluation tools, such as appraisals, are becoming skewed. So what does happen in this kind of auction-like frenzy if a property doesn’t appraise? “This market is moving so fast, appraisals have become as much an art as a science just to keep up with what’s going on out there, especially in multiple-offer situations,” Edlen said. “It is pretty hard for a property not to appraise if there are four buyers willing to pay over the asking price.” Now, if houses do fall out of escrow for any number of reasons, it only seems to make them more attractive to the next buyer, who may have already put in a backup offer. What does all this do to housing prices? “They’re just going to keep going up, as long as the inventory is low,” said Scott Gibson, who lives in the Highlands and is president of Coldwell Banker in Greater Los Angeles. “Part of the reason inventory is so low is because homeowners, many of whom have nowhere to go, are choosing to refinance and remodel rather than move. All this remodeling is a good thing because it adds value to the overall housing stock in the community.” Gibson, who recently told the Post that within five years “you won’t be able to buy a property under a million on the Westside,” also sees this market “as one of those rare times when it’s good for both buyers and sellers. Sellers because they can get top dollar and buyers because of continuing low interest rates. Owning property is still one of the best investments you can make.” Beverly Gold, who is also with Coldwell Banker and has lived in the Palisades since 1952, agrees. Having been involved in the sale of almost 90 percent of the homes in The Summit housing project in the Highlands, Gold said she has seen the properties she sold in 1997 “double in value” since then. She currently has five listings in the Palisades, three of which are in escrow. “Last week my $2.8-million listing in the Highlands sold in one day and my $2.9-million listing the week before sold in three days,” she said. How did Gold get so many coveted listings? She said she is in the enviable position of having created “an annuity for myself, having originally sold so many homes in The Summit. My clients are very loyal and call me when they are ready to move up or sell. I am very fortunate.” Anthony Marguleas, of A.M. Realty on Sunset, who deals exclusively with buyers, thinks that the decrease in inventory “will finally weed out a lot of agents in the area. Only the best ones will survive.” Randy Freeman agrees. “It will be the same as it has always been, with 20 percent of the agents around here doing the bulk of the business.” Freeman, an agent with Prudential John Aaroe who has worked in the Palisades for the last 13 years, feels that this market is preferable to the market a decade ago “when there was something like 278 houses on the market and no buyers!” Joan McGoohan, who manages DBL Realtors on Sunset, also prefers this frenzied market to the early 90’s real estate slump. “I remember when you couldn’t give away houses in the Huntington!” which is where she currently lives. “That’s when people were walking away from their homes because they were paying more for their house than it was worth. It was a dreadful time, for everyone. At least now, if people can’t find what they want, they can stay where they are. That’s primarily why there is such a lack of inventory.” As for the growing trend of homeowners being solicited directly by prospective buyers, McGoohan said that while she does not condone the practice, “I don’t blame them. How else are buyers going to find what they want?” John Closson, who lives here and is western regional manager for Prudential John Aaroe, believes that Palisadians will continue “to take advantage of the opportunity to trade up at a lower cost,” although the “fear of locating a suitable replacement property can be paralyzing.”

‘Juvies’ Exposes Juvenile Justice System

The word “juvies” reminds me of the kids I used to see in movies I watched in the 1950s. They were punks, messing around, acting tough in a world defined by the monotony of their lives and their wildly naive view of the future. Director Leslie Neale’s documentary “Juvies” is a blatantly clear, tragic look at teens who have committed crimes-anything from assault and battery to murder-for which they are tried and sentenced as adults. In her film, Neale sets out to tell the stories of 12 kids, each with his or her own set of circumstances, but all dealt a hopeless hand by the criminal justice system. The film will be presented at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 3 at Mount St. Mary’s College in cooperation with Human Rights Watch. Neale, a Rustic Canyon resident, delivers a powerful and convincing treatise on the cruel treatment of children trapped in long prison sentences which one person in the film characterizes as a slow death. Juvenile Hall was established 100 years ago precisely because the state understood then that children and adults are different. Now, according to Neale, that system that was originally designed to protect them has failed. Youth tried in adult criminal courts face the same penalties as adults, including life without parole. While in prison, they receive little or no education, mental health treatment or rehabilitative programming. Neale cites studies that show one of the last areas to develop in adolescents is the ability to prevent impulsive behavior; that the frontal cortex of the brain-the portion that controls impulse and emotion and planning-is still maturing. And that one-half of those teens who commit crimes before 18 will never go on to commit another crime. “Juvies” is almost a prologue to Neale’s first film, “Road to Return,” which dealt with the successful return of ex-cons into society, and prompted a U.S. Senate bill that expanded funding for post-prison transitional programs in six more states. This new documentary came about as a result of Neale’s volunteer work at Central Juvenile Hall at Eastlake Center downtown, where she taught a video production class. In teaching the techniques of filmmaking, Neale instructed kids in interview skills and taught them how to use a camera, but she was completely naïve about the juvenile justice system. “I believed in the headlines,” Neale says. “Even the kids I knew had done horrendous things, the most evil, grievous crimes. At first I didn’t believe a lot of what the kids were telling me. But, I was amazed at their level of honesty and realized that there was a film here.” While working with the kids in Juvenile Hall, Neale watched helplessly as one by one they were sentenced and sent off to adult facilities with no hope for rehabilitation or reform. So she decided her film would follow 12 teens in Juvenile Hall on the uncertain road from trial to sentencing. “We stayed until everybody had been adjudicated, which amounted to four years.” It took an average of 18 months to bring the kids to trial, according to Neale, and in the case of one of the kids in the film-Anait-three years. In structuring the film, Neale focused on kids who represented oft-repeated scenarios.   Liz’s story is that of a child who after escaping from her sexually abusive father, was homeless, drug-addicted and eventually arrested at 15 for manslaughter. Duc suffered physical abuse from his traditional Vietnamese/Chinese father and was arrested for driving a car from which a gun was shot. Although no one was injured and Duc, 16, was not a member of a gang and had no priors, he received a sentence of 35 years to life. Anait was a 14-year-old Armenian immigrant who was naive and made stupid choices. Marya was born into a gang situation and shot her best friend who was sleeping with a boy from an opposite gang. Peter’s story is of a gifted pianist who was arrested at 17 for breaking and entering and assault with a deadly weapon and now faces 30 years in state prison. In order to support these stories, the filmmaker interviewed the kids’ parents, and when she could, the victims. “You have to know the families in order to tell a story,” Neale says. “Some critics say that it’s unethical to get close to these kids. I say it’s unethical not to be close to the kids.” In fact, Neale and associate producer Traci Odom have kept up a relationship with all the kids they highlight in the film. Interspersed with the teens’ stories are interviews with experts in juvenile justice and gangs and prosecutors. Former District Attorney Gil Garcetti even admits that sentences like the one Duc received-during Garcetti’s tenure as D.A.-are unfair and should never have happened. Neale is working with other advocates, including Juvenile Hall Catholic lay chaplain Javier Stauring, in trying to reform the juvenile justice system and sees “Juvies” as filling a hole in the advocacy movement. Neale, a former actress who grew up in Dallas and got a degree in film from the University of Texas, lives in Rustic Canyon with her husband John Densmore and 12-year-old son Luca. Densmore, an original and founding member of The Doors, is executive producer for both films and is a major supporter of Amnesty International Neale is actively supporting two bills introduced by State Sen. Sheila Kuehl that would provide sentencing relief and clarify the language about fitness hearings-the process by which a persecutor determines whether the teen will be tried in juvenile court or adult court depending on the seriousness of the crime. Neale concludes that the fact that more kids are being incarcerated despite the dramatic drop in juvenile crime rates represents the confluence of a number of factors. She points to the fear of our youth, exacerbated by the media, the increasing rise in gangs as a result of our failing education system, and zero tolerance. “We’re not understanding the gang issue. There are over 3,000 gangs in L.A. alone,” she says. Louis Yablonsky, sociology professor and gang expert at Cal State Northridge, says that “The law takes the position that even if you’re not in a gang, you must be affiliated. That’s just wrong. In all these neighborhoods, everyone knows everyone else, and only 3 percent are dangerous to their communities.” Despite the dramatic drop in juvenile crime rates, L.A. County continues to sentence hundreds of kids to decades, even life in prison, Neale says. “The question we have to ask is what is the ultimate cost to society of what we’re doing to juvenile offenders?” Palisadian Pam Bruns is organizing the March 3 screening for “Juvies,” part of the Second Annual Human Rights Film Festival at Mount St. Mary’s in the Little Theater on the Chalon Campus, north of Sunset off Bundy. Admission is free. The guest speakers will be Neale and Javier Stauring.

Parents, Community Members Voted to New Board of Directors at PaliHi

By MARY MORAN Special to the Palisadian-Post The newly elected Palisades Charter High School Board of Directors held its first meeting on February 17 in the school library. Voting members of the board include principal and executive director Linda Hosford; teachers Holly Korbonski, Minh Ha Ngo and Libby Butler; non-certificated employee Gay Chambers; parents Jonathan Fielding, Ruth Simeon and Jim Suhr; and community members Harriet Leva, Tina Lee and Jack Sutton. Non-voting members are Greg Martins, the school’s acting chief business officer, and Edward Kim, student. Voting by staff, students and parents for the new board members occurred in December and January, and results were announced at the last meeting of the former Governance Council on January 20. Board members will serve until June 2005. Hosford, who plans to retire in June, will serve as an ex-officio member of the board and is the interim secretary. Korbonski, a member of the English Department, is the student-elected teacher representative to the board. She places a high priority on student involvement and on creating a student-friendly environment at PaliHi. Butler, a math teacher and former traveling Palisades student, believes that “Pali has all of the elements necessary to become a school with groundbreaking, innovative programs that serve the needs of a diverse student population.” A math teacher and former Governance Council member, Minh Ha Ngo, the board’s vice- chair, wants to take an active role in creating a school where education is a top priority. The Palisades faculty elected both Butler and Ngo. Gay Chambers, senior office assistant working in the attendance office, is a former Pali student and parent of two Pali graduates. She says, “My love for Pali goes way back and I want to see Pali succeed.” Dr. Jonathan Fielding, a Palisades parent and new board chair, believes that parents need every opportunity to participate in major decisions about school priorities, policies and curriculum changes. As the current Director of Public Health for Los Angeles County, he brings a wealth of expertise in finance, personnel, strategic planning and management to his position on the board. Ruth Simeon is a businesswoman and former teacher and college professor from South Los Angeles, with skills in education, budgeting, human resources, process improvement and operational efficiency. She hopes to represent a broader spectrum of the student population served by Palisades Charter High School. Board treasurer Jim Suhr, a real estate developer and parent of a ninth grader, believes that charter schools are the best path to creating educational excellence in public schools. He brings management, financial and general business skills to the board. Tina Lee is a lawyer from Manhattan Beach who believes that a good high school education “fosters confidence and develops personalities, enabling students to overcome any obstacles they may encounter while pursuing their goals.” Harriet Leva has been involved in governance at Palisades schools for over 10 years. She describes herself as a “good listener and consensus builder” with organizational, analytical and writing skills. Jack Sutton, a local resident whose son graduated from Pali, considers the school “to be a community asset exceeding that of any other high school in the city.” As a lecturer/field coordinator in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and executive officer for Educational Outreach, he believes he can provide a valuable link to the resources available from UCLA. The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16, in the school library. The public is invited.