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Editorial: Hardship gives way to hope

January 02, 2010

For many people, 2009 was a year they’d just as soon forget.

Smoke and ash filled the skies for the better part of a month, forcing some to evacuate their homes, only to be left in a state of worry now for years to come with each passing rain storm.

A state budget mess of epic proportions forced some hard decisions at City Hall and the school district. All the while, the city was put through a brutal election and all that comes with it — the incessant mailers, politicking and hard campaigning.

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The Police Department seemed to crumble under the weight of misconduct accusations, bruising the city’s public image. A sergeant caught up in the probes shot himself to death on a public sidewalk.

Unemployment rates broke the 10% barrier, placing huge burdens on local nonprofits already struggling to cope with fewer resources and donations.

And as if to illustrate the hard times, even the hallmark Love Ride had to be canceled due to lack of financial support and public interest.

But it will be hard to leave 2009 behind. Foothill residents will have to cope with the threat of mudslides for years to come as the hills recuperate from the largest fire in Los Angeles County history.

The school district, after absorbing as much of the state education funding cuts as it could for this session, will no doubt be forced to undergo layoffs when Sacramento tightens the books yet again.

That will, in turn, force school administrators to lean even more on parents and community groups to fill in the gaps that in recent months have yawned to the breaking point.

By most accounts, it will take local businesses a while to start hiring again, which means the effects of the Great Recession will continue to be a challenge to retailers. And so the city can expect more deflated tax revenues.

The state fiscal crisis, with disaster narrowly averted last year on a shaky set of budget patches, will surely come back to haunt City Hall in the spring and bring new meaning to the term belt-tightening.

Grant funding will remain scarce, as will corporate hand outs, and so local nonprofits will continue to feel the pinch.

In fact, 2010 looks a lot like 2009, just with a little more potential.

City officials appear to be moving full steam ahead with reforming the Police Department.

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