Altadena’s politics come to a boil at the library

The Altadena Library, pictured in Sept. 2014. (Photo by Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News)

Politics as a reflection of a place’s broader culture will find a way to come to the fore, even if that place is forced by circumstances to have less home rule than others.

Altadena is an unincorporated Los Angeles County name on the map. Its Town Council is advisory to the Board of Supervisors, without legislative power of its own. But there is a cultural-political entity that is entirely Altadena’s own: the Altadena Library District. The populace is madly house-proud of its mid-century modern main branch at Mariposa and Christmas Tree Lane, designed by local Boyd Georgi, and its Bob Lucas Memorial branch on Lincoln — they are at the heart of the community. Books, yes, and all the digital platforms of same. But also as a place to get together in a steep, semi-rural town that cherishes that, from farmers markets to shared vegetable gardens to art galleries. With its new infusion of artists and other creatives seeking refuge from the hubbub and the real estate prices of Silver Lake and Echo Park, Altadena is a different place than the middle-class Altadinky, as the mavens of Hometown Pasadena have dubbed it, that I grew up in. But there were always painters and musicians — and goats.

Nationwide midterm election — fuhgeddaboutit! say Altadena politicos. The really big issue on the November ballot is the one for Library District trustees. The district and its electeds are embroiled in a wild dust-up involving apparent Brown Act violations by trustees, who put library Executive Director Mindy Kittay on leave earlier this year, after which board President John McDonald resigned in March following the release of emails between McDonald and board members Ira Bershatsky and Armando Zambrano that contain…

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