By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
It was sneaky. Antonovich's resolution made it sound like term limits would be imposed for the first time, not expanded to allow 20 years in office instead of 12. It also was self-serving: It would allow him to serve two more terms.
His colleagues weren't persuaded. Zev Yaroslavsky, who denounced the resolution, cast the only vote against it. While Antonovich and Don Knabe voted for it, it failed to pass because it lacked the necessary third vote. Both Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina abstained, not taking a stand either way.
Then there is the chairmanship of the supervisory board, which rotates among its members. When it's his turn, Antonovich insists on calling himself the "Mayor of Los Angeles County" — even as the other four members have declined to adopt that title.
On a perfect summer evening in Covina, far from the machinations of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, Covina added VanDetta's name to its wall of honor last month. The city recognized his long service at the Plunge from 1949 to 1973 — minus two years off for military service — with a small plaque surrounded by many other small plaques.
Less than 50 yards away was the much bigger, stand-alone sign heralding the Plunge as the Michael D. Antonovich Aquatic Center. "It should have been the Vincent VanDetta Aquatic Center," says Novich, who attended the ceremony and posed for pictures with his hero. "But all Vince had to give was his life's work. He didn't have a discretionary fund."
After the short ceremony, VanDetta, who turns 80 on Aug. 19 and is still trim, thanks to his daily, mile-long swim, said he was happy to be honored by the city he served for so long. And he was philosophical about the Plunge being named for someone else.
"Life is not always fair," he said. "The important thing is the kids got the new locker rooms."
The only day VanDetta ever missed work at the Plunge, Novich recalls, was the day in 1962 when his daughter, Alison, was born. Today, Alison Siewert is a Presbyterian minister who views Antonovich's hubris in biblical terms.
"There's a story in 1 Samuel about Saul, Israel's first king. He never feels important enough and is constantly trying to puff himself up in front of his people," she says. "You'd think, he's the king; what more affirmation does he need than that? But at the end of his reign he goes out and makes a monument to himself. Samuel the prophet confronts him and says, 'You are small in your own eyes.' "
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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