Santa is polishing up his sleigh and Rudolph’s nose to begin his long ride with lots of toys for good little boys and girls — and, hopefully, something nice for the rest of us.

Many fun events have already opened the holiday season with many more to come.

You can read about local Christmas and holiday events in the holiday wrap-up story in this week’s What’s On section.

ACCEPTING TOYS — A quick reminder that the City of Los Angeles Fire and Police Departments are still accepting new unwrapped toys for distribution to children who might not receive anything this year.

You can drop off your toys at any city fire station or the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Pacific Community Police Station, 12312 Culver Blvd., Del Rey.

This year, the Pacific Area LAPD sleigh and Santa will travel the streets of Oakwood in Venice from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, December 16th, and the streets of Mar Vista Gardens and surrounding area from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, December 17th, to visit children in those communities.

Holiday parties with new toys for children under the age of 15 will be held immediately after the sleigh tours from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Oakwood Recreation Center, 767 California Ave., Venice, and Mar Vista Gardens Community Center, 4909 Allin Drive, Del Rey.

Information, Gita O’Neill, (310) 202-3825 or at goneill@atty.lacity.org

BOWEN AT CHAMBER — State Sen. Debra Bowen was keynote speaker at the annual Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce “Business Recognition Dinner 2005ÖCalifornia Today” Wednesday, November 30th.

Bowen touched on “background” issues that have come to our attention due to Hurricane Katrina and the many problems created in New Orleans.

She said that studies show that California’s Emergency Preparedness Plans are sadly lacking and much needs to be done to bring them up to an acceptable standard.

Some examples of possible problems in Los Angeles are:

n There is no “emergency housing,” should a major evacuation be required in Los Angeles.

n The Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters would likely be inoperative in a major earthquake.

n The city 911 Emergency Call system capacity could be grossly inadequate, should there be a major disaster. Computer programs need to be redesigned. Sacramento is working with a committee of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to come up with suggestions and solutions; and

n a statewide, massive loss of electric energy could affect water filtration, pumping along hundreds of miles of aqueducts.

Backup capabilities need to be put in place to ensure function of our infrastructure system during a major area disaster, including traffic controls and general communications.

A different area of concern for Bowen is that most voting procedures are being handled electronically. Hackers are toying with the systems and can present a potential hazard.

Bowen said that we must be forever watchful as the state comes to be more reliant on electronics. She recalled a golf joke: “The winner can depend on who holds the scoring pencil.”

Other topics Senator Bowen discussed included the need to take another look at term limits, especially in the Assembly.

With two-year terms and a three-term limit, California faces a 40 to 45 percent turnover each election and we lose considerable institutional knowledge after each election.

Bowen lauded Playa Vista for initiating PV-JOBS, “an outstanding organization that was created to provide career-track opportunities in construction to a multiple-barriered at-risk population.”

She also commended Playa Vista and other local firms that contribute to schools and training in a broad array of electronic educational programs.

“California benefits greatly in keeping the many computer-reliant industries here in our state” with development of mentors, she said.

CHAMBER AWARDS — Mike Arias, managing partner of Arias, Ozzello & Gignac, LLP, received the Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber’s 2005 Community Service Award for all of the time and talents he has shared with our community.

Paul Maynard, vice president and branch manager of Wells Fargo Bank, Westchester, received the chamber’s 2005 Business Recognition Award on behalf of Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo, under his leadership, has participated in many community events and activities to the betterment of our community.

Congratulations were also given to a number of businesses in our community for their many years in business, including Loyola Automotive for 50 years, The Kitchen Store for 40 years, and CORT Business Services and the Venice Family Clinic for 35 years.

A number of other businesses were also congratulated for milestones between five and 25 years in business.

To round out an enjoyable evening, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Senator Bowen.

Mary Richert can be reached at mrichert@ucla.edu

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