The man who loved trees

Scott Wilson in the courtyard of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works headquarters, where he had gone in June 2011 to protest the felling of an Arcadia oak grove by the county Flood Control District. Photo: Emily Green

Scott Wilson, founder of North East Trees, died this morning after collapsing in his Eagle Rock garden over the weekend. He was 89.

The man whose urban greening career started with a massive oak planting at Occidental College in 1989 went on to build a non-profit that combined urban forestry with storm water management, river restoration and town planning. In the last 22 years, his team of landscape architects and horticulturists have been responsible for 35 public gardens and the planting of some 50,000 trees. As he fought to revive the Los Angeles River, former staffer landscape architect Jessica Hall remembers his clarion call being “We’ve just got to

An effective teacher

With apologies to its followers, “The week that was” is postponed and will return next Sunday. I am cleaning up after a party, and not any party, but a farewell party for Michelle Ereckson, who after more than a decade teaching at 24th Street Elementary School in Los Angeles has transferred to a campus closer to her new home.

Those who believe in the test score rankings of teacher effectiveness compiled by the Los Angeles Times will be neither impressed nor horrified by Michelle. The Times, in its statistical beneficence, rates her as “average.”

Boston ferns and birds of paradise

As a somber Mayor of Los Angeles delivered his State of the City address this afternoon, the set dressing said as much as the speech. Los Angeles is a place flagging as much from failure of imagination as from a monetary crisis. Fluffing out the rim of the podium were a mix of Boston ferns and birds of paradise. Behind the Mayor were crumpled-looking American flags.

This is not the stage set worthy of our Mayor, our city or our region. There is no reason for gratuitous greenery when announcing painful budget cuts, or any other occasion. Better no plants than the wrong ones. Better no flags than rumpled ones.

But, if we must decorate, then let’s decorate with our best asset, our natural beauty. Let’s fly our city flag for State of the City addresses. When our Mayor speaks of stalwartness, let’s surround him with rugged agaves instead of

Unqualified? You’re hired

UPDATE WEDNESDAY APRIL 21, 2010: New interim LADWP general manager Austin Beutner will guest on KCRW’s “Which Way LA?” tonight at 7.27pm. Click here for details.

For those who missed today’s article in the Los Angeles Times about the appointment of First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner as interim head of the Department of Water and Power, here’s the best line. “With this appointment, Beutner becomes the DWP’s ninth general manager in the last 10 years.”

Whatever one thought of Beutner’s two predecessors, H. David Nahai, or S. David Freeman, both men knew water and Freeman also understood power.

Beutner, described by a local public radio affiliate as a former Wall Street trader, knows neither, prompting the blog Griffith Park Wayist to ask, “Will he look at the safety of the City’s water supply as a risk-v.-return proposition?” LA Observed business columnist Mark Lacter put it this way: “While Beutner has

Define jerk

“ADD City Councilman Greig Smith to the list of scofflaws violating Los Angeles’ water conservation restrictions,” reports the LA Daily News. “In a direct challenge to the Department of Water and Power, Smith announced Wednesday he is violating the twice-weekly watering limitations …” to keep reading, click here. Via LA Observed.

Note: it has been politely pointed out to me that Councilman Smith is probably not a jerk. The headline was a not-so-subtle editorial on a subject that deserves more civil and serious treatment. The councilman may be right that his lawn looks better when watered on days of his choosing. If he believes so strongly in that lawn regimen, he owes it to his conscience and perhaps even this City to say so, and even to flout the law. But he also owes it to this City to quit his job before taking action that mocks

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