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Unemployment Rate Falls, as Does Labor Force’s Size

The unemployment rate in South Pasadena continued to drop in November, reaching a pandemic-era low of 6.9%. But an estimated 100 fewer people were actually working compared to October.
The lower unemployment rate appears to be due largely to an approximate decrease in South Pasadena’s labor force of about 300 people, putting the total at roughly 14,100 in November, according to preliminary data from the California Employment Development Department.
About 200 fewer people were unemployed in November compared to October, but it is unclear how many of them found jobs rather than simply leaving the labor force — meaning they reported they were not working and were not looking for work.

Psychologist Shares Modern ‘Manna’ in New Book

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Davina Kotulski

When Davina Kotulski moved to Southern California in 2012, she was beginning a second recent major life change. In 2008, she left a secure government job. Four years later, the psychologist relocated from Northern California to Southern California.
Although she was someone who had always erred on the safe side, Kotulski — who eventually ended up in South Pasadena — stayed positive through these two leaps of faith.

Clinging to Moments of Joy in Year of Disruption

Photo courtesy Andy Lippman
After the passing of his dog Atticus in 2020, longtime South Pasadena Review columnist Andy Lippman recently got a new companion — Scout (above).

Some things never change.
Every morning, about 6:30, the parrots fly over my home on their way to spend the day eating and screeching in the trees around South Pasadena.
It has been that way ever since I moved here 28 years ago. And though the pandemic caused humans to suffer, you could not tell it from the parrots.
Those screeching birds are, to me, a reminder that the more things change, the more some things have stayed the same.
What will never be the same are the people who either caught COVID-19 or died of it. I checked on Dec. 24, and 28 people here had died of the disease and 698 people in South Pasadena had contracted it since March.
A friend who keeps up with these statistics told me that South Pas had to be considered “doing great,” since his hometown of Glendale had 231 deaths and 9,666 cases during the same period.

Parish Steps Up to Give Families Special Christmas Meal

Photo by Zane Hill / The Review
An important part of the weekly food giveaway at Holy Family Church’s Giving Bank is making sure each carton of eggs has a healthy dozen. Laura Escobedo made sure of that this week.

Laura Escobedo opened up a carton of eggs, picked out one that had been cracked open and held it out, as if showcasing an example to be shamed.
“We don’t want to give them out like that,” she said matter-of-factly, shaking her head as she spoke.
Escobedo, a longtime parishioner at Holy Family Church, unceremoniously tossed the egg into a trash can, piling it among other bad ones, and then filled the remainder of the carton with unbroken ones. She bound it shut with a rubber band and stacked it with others on a table, a pile that was eventually loaded into a cart and brought to the courtyard at the church’s St. Joseph Center across the street.

Public Concern About Reopening Schools Clogs Board Docket

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

The increasingly murky prospect of reopening schools early next year proved to be a lightning rod for the South Pasadena Unified School District, with 95 public comments forcing the school board to recess its regular meeting to a second night last week to wrap up business.
School officials emphasized last week that plans were not set in stone and that schools won’t open if the current conditions fail to improve significantly. The district pledged to host its parents and stakeholders at meetings next month as it resumes navigating the minefield of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing surge of which is pulling the plug on much of the nation’s dreams of inching closer to normalcy by the start of 2021.

Food Bank Struggles to Fill Shelves as Hunger Spreads

By Nina Aghadjanian
The Review

Photo courtesy L.A. Regional Food Bank
The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has been working hard to supply partnering food banks and keep individuals across the county fed amid soaring need as a prolonged, coronavirus-induced recession is forcing families into hunger.

After nine months of COVID-19 and a third wave underway, the need for food assistance has reached extraordinary levels, sending Los Angeles County into the throes of the one of the worst food crises in modern history.
Today, nearly 3 million Angelenos don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is working to meet the heightened demand, having distributed 143 million pounds of food, or 118 million meals, since March — a 145% increase compared to the pre-pandemic period.
“You can just see the worry on people’s faces when they come by; they’re concerned and understandably so,” said Michael Flood, the food bank’s chief executive.

City Extends Freeze on Certain Evictions

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

The South Pasadena City Council recently took another step to provide strong tenant protections by enacting measures to both extend a moratorium on evictions due to substantial remodels of rental units and allow for further study on appropriate relocation benefits.
The council plans to discuss both issues further at its first meeting of January. It hopes to solidify the moratorium in January and decide the most appropriate relocation assistance by April.
“I anticipate planning will need more time for the tenant relocation,” Mayor Diana Mahmud added. “It’s a very complex issue and there are a variety of approaches that have been taken by our neighboring cities, including many of our neighboring cities that have adopted no enhanced relocation expenses.”

Huntington Hospital Receives Initial Shipment of COVID Vaccine

Photo courtesy Huntington Hospital
Huntington Hospital has started dispensing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to its front-line employees.

Huntington Hospital recently received its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. In line with federal guidelines and an ethical framework based on risk exposure and the ability to provide ongoing care during the pandemic, those at the front lines of care are among the first group eligible to receive these initial doses.
Huntington Hospital hopes to offer the vaccine to its entire enterprise of employees, physicians and allied health providers in short order.
“We have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to our dedicated health-care workers who have bravely served their community during this pandemic,” said Dr. Lori Morgan, president and CEO of Huntington Hospital. “Though we are currently responding to record-breaking number of COVID-19 patients and know the end to this pandemic is not yet in sight, we rightfully pause to appreciate this moment in the history of health care and our hospital.”

City Shines at Christmas, but the World Beckons Too

Photos courtesy Heidi Hoehn
After a down year in global travel, Heidi Hoehn, a local travel agent shown here at the Chobe River in Africa, said she anticipates a surge in vacations once the coronavirus pandemic begins to wane.

The nicest sightseeing trip I made this year took place the other night, when I toured the streets of South Pasadena looking at the Christmas lights.
It sure seemed as if there were a lot more spectacular displays than in past years. I guess some people decided that there was no place like home to find happiness this Christmas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
I know one family that usually travels on the Christmas holidays, but the children were happy this year to stay home and decorate the house.
But not everyone is happy to be putting up Christmas lights or writing season’s-greetings cards.

Portantino Will Again Chair Senate Appropriations Committee

Sen. Anthony Portantino

Sate Sen. Anthony J. Portantino was reappointed to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, which hears roughly two-thirds of all Senate and Assembly bills introduced each year, giving it significant oversight over legislative proposals that involve expenditure.

Portantino, who represents the 25th District, was reappointed by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). 

“I am thankful to President Pro Tem Atkins for trusting me to meet the responsibility,” Portantino said. “With COVID-19 greatly impacting the state’s finances, this committee will take on greater significance during this session.  I am looking forward to a busy year and I am excited to help make sure California comes out of this pandemic stronger than ever.”

Portantino also was appointed to the banking and financial institutions, governmental organization, insurance, and the joint legislative budget committees. 

The 25th District includes Altadena, Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, Pasadena, San Marino and South Pasadena.