Smart meters, golf courses and bears, oh my!
A vast array of stories in 2011 made the year interesting and varied.
The club house at Debell Golf Club in Burbank on Wednesday, August 24, 2011. (Tim Berger/Staff Photographer)
Here’s a look at some of the headlines that grabbed our attention in 2011, and that will continue to reverberate well into 2012.
For whatever reason, 2011 saw more than its fair share of wildlife intrusions into urban areas. Mountain lions, coyotes, bears, bobcats — during the summer, hardly a week went by without some sort of sighting.
While coyotes play a continuing role in pet deaths, it was the recurring reports of prowling mountain lions that generated the most worry among residents.
Lions were spotted in backyards and even prowling among parked cars in the hills of Burbank. And animal control officers rescued two mountain lion cubs from underneath a parked car earlier this month after they apparently were abandoned by their mother.
Bears also spooked mountain bike riders and hikers in local hills.
And how could we forget the flock of pigeons near Bob Hope Airport that led to misdemeanor public nuisance charges against a man who authorities say was feeding the flock and creating a safety hazard for airplanes.
‘Too big to fail’
After Mayor Jess Talamantes called the troubled, city-owned DeBell Golf Club “too big to fail,” the city approved a $2-million rescue package, ticking off residents who bristled at the notion of a bailout during citywide budget cuts.
The rescue was far more than the roughly $567,000 in proposed public-service cuts at the time, including shaving around-the-clock firefighter staffing from 37 to 36, holding off on planned library improvements and reducing city youth jobs by roughly half.
Parks officials said the golf course had been losing about $300,000 annually in recent years.
The city eventually agreed to spend roughly $24,500 to bring in the National Golf Foundation to help turn the municipal course around.
Burroughs baseball program suffers a hangover
The Indians entered a prolonged period of flux this past spring when Burroughs High School fired the varsity baseball coach and three assistants and canceled the remainder of the season in April after discovering an assistant coach allegedly served players beer during a tournament trip to Arizona.
Indians Coach J.R. Schwer and the assistants, who were all at the mid-March tournament, were fired April 18. Schwer acknowledged that a large number of players were served alcohol by an assistant coach.
The decision to cancel the season sparked outrage among some parents and students who said the actions of a few shouldn’t affect the entire team. But the damage was done.
But the state of flux wasn’t over. Eddie Alvarez — who was hired after the alcohol scandal — was fired by the school’s principal on Oct. 31 because of “inconsistent leadership.”