Monthly Archives: March, 2019

Forty-Five Years of Hard Work Nets Horgan Paul Harris Award

There were no surprises last Thursday afternoon at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens when Bob Horgan stepped to the podium as the most recent recipient of the Rotary Club of San Marino’s most prestigious honor. What you see is what you get with Horgan, which is quite possibly the highest possible praise. “Now I know what a movie star feels like,” Horgan said in his typically understated delivery as he received a gold-framed plaque acknowledging his status as a Paul Harris Honorary Fellow. The atmosphere at times resembled a grand opening from Hollywood’s days of yore, as friends and family members occasionally shouted out “We love you,...

The Snap Heard ‘Round the Rio Hondo

Muir, La Cañada, Temple City, Monrovia, and a doubleheader with La Quinta. The Titans were able to generate a total of nine runs in these six games and after facing the Spartans, Wildcats, and Rams, it was obvious that the team’s mental focus needed an adjustment. Last Friday, the Titans walked into rival South Pasadena to present the message that they weren’t going to roll over without a fight. “It was a ‘must-win’ situation in order to stay in the running,” said senior catcher Kade Wentz. What happened next was something out of a dream. Though the Titans couldn’t notch a run, San Marino received three singles in the first inning off the bats of Wentz, junior shortstop Noah Herrera and senior right fielder Grant Spitzer. What makes this special for this team happened in the third inning. Down by two runs, the Titans began to attack every pitch that was in the vicinity of the plate. Senior infielder Sean Richardson poked a ground ball into center to reach first. Herrera slapped a double to centerfield to get both Richardson and himself into scoring position. The first tally for the Titans came from a sac fly to deep center to that plated Richardson. Spitzer’s hard poke down the third base side would get junior pinch runner Neven Yarahmadi and himself into a first and third situation. Senior leftfielder Max Bradley drove a ball to left to get Yarahmadi to score and tie game at two runs apiece. As he stepped into the batter’s box, senior first baseman Tommy Long stroked a moonshot over the centerfield wall that would catch the attention of anyone near the ballpark. The three-run homer got the Titans to a level of passion not yet experienced this season as they had to be asked to hold back from charging the plate to congratulate Long as the Titans took a 5-2 lead. “I just knew that we needed to get them home,” said Long. “Coach Hobbie always says ‘timely hitting,’ so I just wanted to put the bat on the ball and give our runners a chance to score. I just wanted to make solid contact.” The Titans kept the offensive crusade going in the top of the fourth. A pair of singles from Wentz and Spitzer gave Bradley the push to drive in the sixth run. With Spitzer on third and Long on first after being hit by a pitch, junior infielder Jazz De Perio shot a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Spitzer to tag up and score the seventh run. The fifth inning presented even more offensive strides to extend the lead. After poking a fly ball into center, Wentz would trade places with Herrera with a double into right field to score the eighth run. Long would contribute even more with a single to left to score Wentz and move Bradley to second after after he was hit by a pitch. De Perio was hit by a pitch to load the bases and senior centerfielder Beau Hobbie was also tagged by a pitch. Forcing Bradley to the plate with run number 10. A crazy play occurred in the bottom of the fifth. De Perio would dive and miss a grounder, but Herrera would back him up and try to complete the play. “Most of our guys have played with each other for a long time,” said Richardson. “This was a perfect example of playing for each other. After Jazz dove out, Noah could’ve given up on that play, but he kept on going. We trust each other and have each other’s backs. We all fit together very well.” The Titans last offensive push for this game happened in the sixth inning. Wentz stole home to tally the eleventh run. Bradley would bring Spitzer home with a line drive to left for run number twelve and the Titans improved to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in the Rio Hondo League with the 12-3 victory. “We knew we had to get this win, and our demeanor was an important factor for us,” said senior catcher Joey Brunner. “Our positive demeanor kept us locked in throughout the whole game, and this is what can help us turn around our season.” The team had sixteen hits, a season high for the Titans. Senior starter Zach Balbin started the game and gave up three runs, two of them earned. After Balbin gave up the third run in the fifth, junior relief pitcher Calvin Ryan came on and threw three shutout innings to give Balbin the win. “Coach Mike Hobbie always says ‘swing the damn bat,’” said Wentz. “In the beginning , we weren’t as aggressive, but once we got our momentum we began to swing the bat more and attack the first pitch more often.” For every defensive group, the leaders now understand their goals and what is critical for the rest of the season. According to Balbin, the pitchers “need to stay focused and play like we played today.” For the infielders, Richardson said, “We know that we have got to play exceptionally well and have to minimize our errors. If our offense starts to slack, it is important to make a lot of plays so we can get our team in the dugout and find more opportunities to score. The fundamental goal is to make the routine plays, and maybe make a spectacular play if it is appropriate.” And for the outfielders, Bradley put it simply that “Coach Matt said that we need to be in the game every pitch, which definitely was what we struggled with the past few games. We definitely were sharper this game.” The Titans will return from Spring Break with a flurry of games next week. San Marino visits Temple City on Tuesday, March 26 before heading to La Cañada on Wednesday, March 27. The Titans return home on Friday, March 29 to face Monrovia, the defending Rio Hondo League champions. All games start at 3:30 p.m.

The Huntington, Caltech Launch New Research Institute

For close to a century, Caltech in Pasadena and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino have shared a close relationship, ever since Caltech’s George Ellery Hale encouraged railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington to transform his extensive collections into a research center. In the continual quest for knowledge and scientific advancement, recent years have seen collaborations between the two range from interdisciplinary research projects to establishing a visiting professorship. Taking that spirit a step forward, Caltech and The Huntington have combined forces to launch a new research institute focused specifically on the history of science and technology. The Rogers Institute for the History of Science and Technology at Caltech and The Huntington is “positioned to become the pre-eminent institute of its kind in the western United States” and will extend “collaborative humanities research between a premier science and engineering university and a premier research library with extraordinary holdings in the field,” according to a release from The Huntington. The collaboration was made possible by a three-year gift to the institutions by San Marino resident Stephen E. Rogers who saw an opportunity to further strengthen the relationship between the two and support innovative young researchers in the process. As a member of The Huntington’s Board of Overseers and president of the Caltech Associates, a support group of the university, Rogers wished to shed light on San Marino and Pasadena being “the center of the universe for the history of science and technology” since The Huntington acquired the Burndy Library from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Combining that with the strength of Caltech’s research materials, rare books and wealth of ongoing research, Rogers saw a chance to bring both together in a powerful way. “There’s an opportunity for young researchers to come in and do research in new avenues and new approaches to things, which I think will hopefully help people out,” Rogers told The Tribune. The Burndy Library brought an immense depth and scope to The Huntington’s collection in science and technology when it came to The Huntington in 2006. With 67,000 rare books and manuscripts, the Burndy’s most notable holdings include the history of early mathematics and physics, with the largest collection of Isaac Newton papers outside England, the Grace K. Babson Collection, on deposit from Babson College. “The Huntington is already an important center for the study of the history of science,” said Steve Hindle, W. M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at The Huntington, in the release. “This new institute is a collaboration that will strengthen existing activities, add new programs, recruit additional research fellows, and ultimately lead to the appointment of new faculty. I am delighted that it will emphasize support for younger scholars, in particular. The creation of the institute represents a significant step forward for this critical area of intellectual pursuit.” The Huntington holds numerous treasures constituting the history of science and its collection is one of the largest and most important in North America. Its wide range of materials covers Western practice and theory across science, medicine, technology and a vast array of subdisciplines. Holdings include a 13th century “Almagest” manuscript (an astronomy treatise) by Ptolemy and the papers of Edwin Hubble (1889-1953), the astronomer noted for discovering the universe is in a process of expanding. Other works include the Carnegie Observatories’ Mount Wilson Observatory Collection, with more than 1,000 books covering the history of physics and astronomy, and directors’ papers and photographic archives. For Rogers, he has faith in the people and administrative focus of both Caltech and The Huntington and looks forward to seeing what novel avenues of discovery the new institute will illuminate. “All the planets and the stars are in alignment for this thing,” shared Rogers. “I’m just the guy who was handed the ball on the two-yard line and told to carry it into the end zone.”

Killackey Hopes Gift ‘Will Never Be Used’

An otherwise innocuous conversation at a recent Rotary luncheon served as the launch pad for a program that might make San Marino’s four public school campuses much safer. Rotarian Mike Killackey was chatting with San Marino Fire Chief Mario Rueda when the Chief mentioned that the city had purchased a number of what are called public access bleeding control kits that have been placed throughout the community. “I asked him if they were going into our schools,” Killackey said on Wednesday morning. “He said that they were just for city buildings. I told him that had to change.” Killackey responded by writing a check for more than $7,000 to the San Marino Unified School District for the purchase of 14 stations, which will soon be installed at strategic locations across all four campuses. Designed to provide bystanders and initial first responders with quick access to essential medical equipment for stopping bleeding, every campus will have access to the stations, which include blood-clotting gauze, tourniquets, and other necessary emergency supplies to quickly control bleeding in emergency situations. Once installed, each elementary school will receive three stations, while Huntington Middle School and San Marino High School will each have four. “It’s really important for the safety of our students, teachers and staff and it’s important that we reach out and do whatever we can,” Killackey continued. “There is limited money for the schools and we each have to do what we can.” An attorney, Killackey made the contribution through his firm, Killackey Law Offices, APC, a personal injury law firm specializing in catastrophic injury cases, which is located in Alhambra. He worked with Rueda, San Marino Police Chief John Incontro and Jim Fahey at the San Marino Unified School, District to garner recommendations for the kits and determine the number needed for each campus. Each kit provides materials to treat eight individuals who are in need. Killackey made the donation before last week’s lockdown event at San Marino High School but acknowledged that it provided yet another grim reminder of the need for lifesaving equipment and resources. “The safety of our students, teachers and staff in emergencies such as an active shooter situation or earthquake disaster is absolutely paramount,” Killackey said. “We hope these supplies will never be used, but we recognize an ability to provide immediate lifesaving response is crucial” Killackey and his wife, Stefanie, live in San Marino and have students both at Huntington Middle School and Valentine Elementary School. Killackey, a trustee on the San Marino Schools Foundation, was a candidate at the 2018 San Marino School Board election, finishing fourth among the seven candidates who were vying for three seats. Stefanie Killackey will serve as the 2019-20 president of the Valentine Elementary School PTA. “We are thankful for everything the school district and the San Marino Fire and Police Departments do for our family and our community,” he said. “We saw this as an opportunity to give back and help them keep our campuses safe.”

District Researching Ways To Improve Communication

More than a week after an apparent hoax forced a lockdown at its high school, the San Marino School Board heard a report at Tuesday evening’s meeting from Chief Technology Officer Stephen Choi regarding proposed changes and improvements to a communication system that, in the minds of some, was slow in getting information to students, parents, teachers and community members. By its own admission, the San Marino Unified School District (SMUSD) was able to send its first message at 7:40 a.m., almost a full hour after a decision was made at 6:45 a.m. to lockdown the school due to the discovery of a text message that threatened one of its students. With students on campus attending zero period classes and activities, a decision was made to keep students on campus who had already shown up at the school while turning away any who arrived. In a conversation Tuesday afternoon, Choi told The Tribune that the 7:40 a.m. message was sent through the Blackboard Mass Notification System, which is...

San Marino Runs Temple City Off Track In Opener

It’s fascinating to consider what wagering odds one could have gotten a decade or two ago on San Marino High School’s track team sweeping Temple City at all three contested levels. The Rams were once so dominant that the Rio Hondo League finals were more of a coronation and the squad needed at least three buses to transport them to away meets. Well, cash that ticket if you have it because the tide has turned, and it’s blue. The Titans defeated the Rams last Thursday, opening league dual meet action with a flurry as the girls’ varsity claimed a 91-34 victory, the boys’ varsity won 74-52 and the boys’ frosh-soph prevailed by a final score of 74-48. Junior Puja Balaji paced the Lady Titans with three individual victories while contributing to a fourth. Bulaji won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs and ran a leg for the winning 4 x 400-meter relay team, accumulating almost four miles of victory. Senior Olivia Ruiz won the 400-meter dash, finished second in the 800 meter run and also had a hand in the winning 4 x 400-meter relay effort. Sophomore Jonathan Karkafi won the 1,600 and 800 meter runs for the varsity boys and also took a lap for the boys’ 4 x 400-meter relay squad. Luke Jain also doubled in the 200 and 400 meter dashes and ran a leg of the 4 x 400 meter relay. Junior Skyler Pak won the 200 meter dash and finished second in the 100 meter dash, which was won by teammate Mackenzie Dawes. Annie Derrick took second in the 200 and third in the 100 while adding to the winning relay efforts. Freshman Madison Spitzer won the girls’ long jump with a 14’ 3” effort. The teams are back in action on Thursday, March 28 when La Cañada comes calling at 3:15 p.m. in another Rio Hondo League showdown.

SMHS Grad Pens Top-Selling Book That Promotes Inclusion

Separately, Justin Nelson and Victoria Fuqua received acknowledgment from their classmates at Huntington Middle School in 1998 for “Best Personality.” Since then, they have done little apart....

Gavilan, Paladin Strike Partnership Deal to Take Local Publications to the Next Level

Paladin Capital Partners, LLC announced this week that it has become a partner in Gavilan Media and will manage the three Gavilan Media publications. Paladin executives Charles...

SMHS Student Arrested After Text Threat Forces Campus Lockdown

A San Marino High School (SMHS) senior was arrested Monday morning after a text message the student sent to a group of friends threatening extreme physical harm to one of the recipients was discovered by the FBI, causing a lockdown of San Marino High School. The student, who is a minor, was released at 5 p.m. Monday, according to a family member, and is awaiting a court date. The threat was reportedly intended as a prank among friends but mentioned the shooting of one of the recipients. In an apparent effort to disguise the source of the threat, the subject outlined a plan to “ to your school ” to follow through with the threat, apparently lending further credibility to the claim. The text message was sent through an application that can disguise the identity of the sender. One of the seven recipients of the text message contacted the anonymous WeTip hotline and reported the threat. San Marino Police Department (SMPD) Chief of Police John Incontro told The Tribune that the FBI in Washington, D.C. received the tip Sunday. “Apparently, someone at the FBI believed it was serious enough to get involved,” Incontro told The Tribune. When accessing the WeTip website, the first prompt asks a user wanting to submit a tip “Is this a School Incident?” By Monday morning, the FBI determined the source and recipient of the threatening text message and informed the West Covina branch of the FBI, who placed a call to Incontro Monday morning at 6:20. Incontro initiated a conference call that included San Marino High School Principal Dr. Issaic Gates, Superintendent Loren Kleinrock and Assistant Superintendent Linda de la Torre. At 6:45 a.m., it was decided that the campus should be locked down. Detectives from the SMPD were dispatched to interview the recipient and the apparent source of the threats. Officers also arrived at San Marino High School to search and secure the campus, which was occupied by students attending classes and activities during “zero hour,” a class period that runs from 7:00–7:54 a.m. The subject—who is a juvenile—was arrested at his San Marino home shortly after 9 a.m. for making criminal threats and was taken to Alhambra Jail, where he was processed and fingerprinted. He was then taken to the SMPD, where he stayed until he was released to his parents at 5 p.m. An earlier report said the young man was taken from the Alhambra Jail to a juvenile detention facility in Pasadena, but that turned out to be incorrect. The lockdown was lifted shortly after 10 a.m. and students were asked to return to campus for fourth period classes, which begin at 11:10 a.m. on a standard school schedule. School Board President Lisa Link was contacted early in the morning and went immediately to the SMHS campus. “The first and immediate goal was to secure the campus and confirm that all students, faculty and staff who were already on campus were in safe locations with access to food, water and restrooms,” Link said. “Once there was a police presence protecting the various entry points on the campus, the next priority was communicating with faculty and staff who were on their way to work, and then with parents and students who were not yet on campus. While any inconvenience to parents’ and students’ schedules is not desirable, we appreciate the community’s understanding that the safety of our students who were already on campus was the overriding priority.” Link was grateful for the police response. “On behalf of the Board of Education, I thank Chief John Incontro, Commander Aaron Blondé, the San Marino Police Department and other local police departments for all of their outstanding efforts to provide a safe and secure environment on the San Marino High School campus this morning,” Link said Monday afternoon. “Our gratitude extends as well to Principal Gates, district administrators, and the teachers and staff who were on campus during the lockdown. It is obviously very distressing to hear about threats of violence against our students and to have to lock down a school campus, but it is reassuring to know that the SMPD and the district effectively worked together to follow established protocols to ensure our students’ safety.” Incontro said that 11 officers from the Pasadena, San Gabriel, Alhambra and South Pasadena Police Departments were dispatched to the campus and that the SMPD this morning held over its four officers from the overnight shift and called in another five officers and a sergeant to respond to the threat and police the community. “Once we secured the campus, we focused on the investigative leads,” Incontro told The Tribune. “Once we spoke to the victim and the subject, there was nothing to lead us to believe there was another threat at San Marino High School or any of the district’s other campuses.” Incontro also said that the subject was “very cooperative” when contacted by police. When contacted Wednesday morning, Incontro said that everything “went well.” “We have prepared for this kind of thing, we have had trainings and discussions when Dr. Cherniss was here, and it worked,” Incontro said. He called the school district personnel with whom he interfaced “great partners.” “ Lisa Link was tremendous,” Incontro said. “It is nice to have primary decision-makers on scene. Thankfully it wasn’t as serious as it could have been.” He called the FBI’s ability to take an anonymous tip and find the subjects across the country “amazing.” “The things they can do these days with technology is incredible,” he added. Incontro said that he hopes to work on better communication with the community, and mentioned that a system which is intended to inform the community’s private schools did not materialize. “We will work on that,” he said. “Parents want information and as a parent myself I understand that. We try to put it out as soon as we can, but we were investigating a crime and one that includes a minor and a school and a school and we have to take that very seriously. People have to understand that sometimes you cannot get immediate information. We are not CNN. We are not a news agency.” Incontro also credited the young man who filed the WeTip report. “He should be praised for that,” Incontro said. “He thought there was a credible threat and he reported it. We always talk about ‘see something, say something’ and he did. I appreciate that.” He feels the entire incident was “a hoax that went way out of control” and also praised the young man and his parents for their responses. “They are very responsible parents,” Incontro said. “This turned out the right way.”

Incontro Says There are Many Factors to Police Shortage

San Marino Police Chief John Incontro said that there are many reasons the San Marino Police Department is currently short staffed. Following up on a subject discussed in last week’s Tribune, Incontro said that management style, higher pay in larger departments and lower crime activity on the job within the city are among the reasons many officers leave. Incontro shared that San Marino has had a high success rate of new hires staying on with SMPD after their necessary amount of training. In his time with the force, two have left before or right after the training probationary period. Incontro said he has seen some patterns in exit interviews of prior officers during his time with the department. The reasons are varied and include desire of officers to join a larger department with more opportunity for specialized assignments, different kinds of work, opportunity to promote faster, higher pay and higher long-term retirement benefits. “Sometimes it’s monetary, sometimes it’s personality driven, sometimes it’s type of work driven,” said Incontro. Incontro also noted that since he joined SMPD as chief in 2014, he has made some policy adjustments to investigations that some officers came to disagree with. With 35 years of experience within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), he started to register complaints and changed how complaint investigations and use of force investigations were handled. He “tightened them up” in how they were outlined and he said some felt he was “a little strict” in how he was managing. “Things were going well but just in my eyes, I wanted to do things a little different,” said Incontro. “Plus with my experience from LAPD and going through a consent decree, I saw things in a slightly different way than some of the other people.” A consent decree is an agreement between involved parties submitted in writing to a court, according to the LAPD website. Upon judge approval, it becomes legally binding. A consent decree within law enforcement serves as an oversight by the Department of Justice to promote police integrity within a department and prevent conduct that deprives individuals of their rights, privileges or immunities under the United States Constitution. The LAPD was under a consent decree from 2001 to 2013. “The officers we have are professional, they do their job,” said Incontro. “And as it is, if we have two complaints a year, that’s a lot. Or if we have four uses of force, that’s a lot. I just have a different style and some people aren’t used to that.” SMPD hires recruits in four different ways. First, one can be hired as a recruit officer who has not yet been sworn in as an officer. The SMPD pays the recruit a salary to attend a police academy which lasts approximately six months. The cost of the training depends on what academy that’s currently available. The SMPD utilizes the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Academy, Rio Hondo College Police Academy and the Golden West College Police Academy. “Sometimes what we’ll do is we hire someone a few weeks before the academy and we do that to get them started on the academics and ensure they are at a physical readiness for the academy,” said Incontro. “It’s a way to ensure that our investment is going to succeed.” Another option is hiring recruits who have put themselves through academy or are currently attending one on their own sponsorship. In this way, the recruit can go directly into a training program with the SMPD. Upon graduation from the academy, recruits go through a field training program which lasts 20 to 22 weeks. A third route is lateral hires, hiring those who are already sworn officers. They’ve completed the academy and the training probationary period. They also have a post basic certificate. “If we were able to get more laterals, that’s great,” said Incontro. “It’s a very quick turnaround to have a full time officer on his own who needs little or no supervision.” The final option is hiring officers who have been out of police work for two to three years. They are required to go through a refresher training program called Police Officer Standard Training (POST) for three weeks, according to Incontro. Depending on how much training is required of the recruit, the cost can range from $500 to several thousand dollars, according to Incontro. For a raw recruit requiring full training which includes academy cost, salary, testing, time of on-duty officers to monitor exams, interviews, background investigation and other requirements over an approximately two year time period, the cost is “easily a few hundred thousand dollars or more,” according to Incontro. “It can be expensive and that’s why we want to make sure that when we finally do offer a job to someone, we have a good feeling they’re going to make it through rather than not,” said Incontro. The SMPD is currently working with the Chinese Club of San Marino to identify potential candidates within the community. Incontro noted a need for those who speak Mandarin and other languages, which can be a valuable asset in a diverse community. The department currently has three officers who grew up in San Marino. “We really do want to ensure that the police department reflects the community that we’re serving,” said Incontro.
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