Of Peace, Education And Beer-fests Future

By Chris Lavin

La Mesa Today Editor

LA MESA -- One of the subtle facets of the new Bo-beau in La Mesa is the community table you find just inside the bar to the right of the entrance.
Wander in on any given night and take a seat there, rather than at a private table, and you never know who may join you in the next seat. You are so close together that invariably conversations start up and we've even shared food when the ample flat breads proved too much for one stomach.
Just last Tuesday night for example, we wandered in and there, sitting across from each other were Mayor Art Madrid and Mary England, executive director of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce.
Bo-beau, we thought, makes for strange bedfellows, but we didn't say that. For much of the last couple years, Hizzoner and Ms. England haven't exactly been on talking terms. He has boycotted chamber events and she has fired off e-mails that you couldn't pour on pancakes.
But here they were, brought together by the community table and we simply sat down to join in on the conversation.
"Are we interrupting detente?''
"Absolutely,'' England gushed. "The mayor is going to do the investiture of my new members next month!''
"Did you kiss and make up?'' we asked.
"Let's not get into the past. We just have to move on. We're too old for these grudges,'' she explained.
"Or maybe it's election year,'' we offered.
Dead air. The community table probably has rules and we probably just broke them.
But the mayor did acknowledge that he and England had talked out the original problems that led to the Ice Age and things will be warming up. He will be swearing in the new officers at the Chamber's fundraiser, which is held in Mission Valley in February.

Time heals all wounds.

The Birthing Of A New School

One by one, the candidates for the new La Mesa Arts Academy are showing up for entrance interviews. Fourth through eighth graders from throughout La Mesa and, it turns out, from throughout San Diego, are meeting with the new management of LMAAC to describe their desire for this new arts-based education.

"We now have a waiting list,'' Mark Arapostathis, one of the LMAAC founders explained. "Word is spreading and more people want in. One family is actually moving here from North County so their daughter can join us.''

The school is planning an April 29th welcoming event at the school and, with the growing interest, past experience suggests enrollment by the time school opens in the fall will exceed 500 students.

"It's just really going well,'' Arapostathis reports. "The students are getting their first interview experience and it is starting to dawn on all of us how new everything is. Everything is new -- the students, the teachers, the furniture. Some of it we have in the district, but we are literally building a school from scratch.''

Arapostathis said as the student body takes shape and opening day approaches, the teachers and administrators are getting excited about what it will mean to have students from fourth through eight grade in the same building.

LMAAC is a special arts-based magnet program that will operate as a separate school in the La Mesa Middle School campus starting this fall. Arapostathis, who heads Peter Pan Jr. Theater and the teen C. Hook Theater, is part of a team of educators pioneering a new approach to elementary education in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District.

Peace In Our Time

The Syrian Peace Talks are underway in Europe, but here, closer to home, the meetings between La Mesa City officials and the Oktoberfest organizers have been going too.

Nothing concrete to report, but Police Chief Ed Aceves, who is participating in the discussions, said any rumors of Oktoberfest's looming demise are not true. "We're just working to find a way to keep the event safe and manageable, meeting the city's obligations to the public while keeping it a lucrative enough event for the organizers.''

Security problems with roving bands of under-supervised teens has caused civic stomach aches for city officials, and particularly for residents of downtown condos and apartments who found their usually quiet environs looking like one of the Jets and Sharks scenes from West Side Story. (For the show-tune challenged, think gangs, knives and too much testosterone in one place.) 

Aceves said he is optimistic accommodations and adjustments can be made and Oktoberfest will happen -- though its shape and size is still being talked out.

"We expect bringing it back to council for one of the March meetings,'' Aceves said.

In the meantime, construction will begin soon on the street scape project that will transform Oktoberfest's main street -- La Mesa Boulevard. It is hoped the majority of that project will be completed before the new Oktoberfest is unveiled.

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Tags: Art Madrid, LMAAC, La Mesa Arts Academy, La Mesa Today, Mark Arapostathis, Mary England, Oktoberfest


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Comment by Esteban Camisado on January 29, 2014 at 11:57am

don't eschew the commie label on hiss is true #blowhards-sixpack

Comment by Kevin G George on January 29, 2014 at 9:04am

Yes Chris it would be nice to get past the name calling.

But I don't hear " commie" as much as I hear " Teabagger" these days.

Comment by Esteban Camisado on January 28, 2014 at 4:59pm

hiss was a communiss spy debate? where? #blowcheese

Comment by La Mesa Today on January 28, 2014 at 4:33pm


My sense is that you'll find a lot of historians debate about the clarity of the Hiss and Rosenberg efforts. Not our finest hour -- in retrospect, which is, as they say, always 20-20. My point is that I had hoped we had progressed beyond the era of commie name-calling and guilt by association that fueled many of the abuses of that time. Part of La Mesa's charm is its brushes with Brigadoon so, perhaps, we should relish this too.


Comment by Esteban Camisado on January 28, 2014 at 3:07pm

writes lavin "he lived in a political era more akin to the Witch Trials of Salem's history." so dat be da jr. ring, not lord of da ring. #23#

Comment by Kevin G George on January 28, 2014 at 2:57pm

 Alger Hiss is departed, was he innocent?

Comment by La Mesa Today on January 28, 2014 at 2:41pm


That's correct. I was referring to the father Ring, not the son Ring Jr. In any and all cases, history has pretty well sifted the victims from the perpetrators of the Red Scare era, but there clearly are those who want to keep victimizing even the departed.


Comment by Kevin G George on January 28, 2014 at 1:45pm

Wow Chris, a little nit picky don't you think?

Especially in light of the fact that you refereed to him as " the great author Ring Lardner" and " Mr. Lardner was one of America's great sports writing talents"  sans jr., both times you mentioned him.

Comment by Mark Cavanaugh on January 28, 2014 at 10:39am

How much "Courage" and "Leadership" does it take to use a current photo versus a 20 year old (?) photo on your business card and the City website?  A man who is not secure to use his current photo is a man who lacks transparency and integrity but we already knew that.  Will the real Art Madrid please go away.

Comment by La Mesa Today on January 28, 2014 at 8:30am


For the record, your reference to Ring Lardner as a "commie" actually is wrong. You are referring to his son, Ring Lardner Jr., whose brush with the McCarthy witch hunts have fueled yours. History has a way of surfacing truth, even where it may not be welcome.


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