Frank R. Hall and Associates
   382 E. Montecito Ave
   Sierra Madre, Ca 91024







A Salute to our Friends George and Susie Sladoje

MEET THE SLADOJES - Patricia and I moved to Sierra Madre in 1998 and one of the first things I did was join the one year old Sierra Madre Rotary Club, since I ‘d been a life-long Rotarian. I was the first non-Charter Member of the club and Susie was the second.

George and Susie moved to Sierra Madre from Chicago because George accepted the position of President and CEO of the California Power Exchange. A former senior executive with the Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Stock Exchange, George had been selected to put together a mechanism for the distribution of electric power after California deregulated its power industry. The Exchange worked fine until the politicians screwed it up.

Susie had been a “Power Volunteer” in Chicago and Rotary was a natural outlet for her enthusiasm and volunteer spirit.

PALM SPRINGS - We became friends with the Sladojes at the Rotary District Conference the following spring held that year in Palm Springs. We ate together and shopped the antique stores together. Since I had lived in Palm Springs for 8 years in the late 60s and early 70s, I knew where most of the “celebrity” homes were and I took them on a tour, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Walter Annenberg’s estates included.

MAMA MIA - Later that year we all attended “Mama Mia,” the musical based on the songs of the 1970s Swedish singing group “Abba.” It was playing a pre-Broadway run at the Shubert Theater in Century City. We all agreed it was going to be a hit and, of course, we were right. Unfortunately, it will be the last time any of us see a show at the Shubert as the theater closed permanently shortly after Mama Mia left for New York.

CHILD ADVOCATES - Susie’s sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, has adopted the “Court Appointed Special Advocates Child ” as their national philanthropy, so Susie transferred her interest from the Chicago CASA to the Los Angeles Friends of Child Advocates when she moved to Sierra Madre. The local group promptly made her the chair of their annual benefit and we had the privilege of attending the event with her and George at the Los Angeles Hilton. Pat Haden, the former U.S.C. Quarterback and now a CBS sportscaster, was honored and we enjoyed the program immensely as he and his former “favorite target” J. K. McKay (son of the famous Trojan Football Coach, John McKay) exchanged “barbed” but good-natured insults.

CHICAGO - Susie and George then invited us to go to Chicago to attend a world famous, museum quality Craft Show called The American Craft Exposition, which Susie chaired prior to moving to California. The show is held in Evanston on the campus of Northwestern University and features unique crafts from artisans chosen from among hundreds of applicants. It is a spectacular event.

We stayed at the Ritz Carlton on Michigan Avenue near the historic Water Tower. They took us to some of (what are now) our all time favorite restaurants.

“Bistro 110,” less than two blocks from their new downtown Chicago Condo has the most fabulous Artichoke you’ve ever had. Strange that the best Artichoke is 2,000 miles east of Watsonville where 95 percent of American artichokes are grown.

The “Capital Grille,” walking distance from the Ritz boasts “The best steak in Chicago” and they certainly won’t get an argument on that statement from the Halls.

George took us on a tour of the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange. It was particularly interesting to have a tour led by an insider who is so obviously held in great regard by the people who formerly worked for him. Also, the Sladoje’s son, Steven, is now carrying on the family tradition at the CBOE.

Susie took us shopping on Michigan Avenue (among the best in the world, we can hardly wait to go back) and then on a driving tour of North Shore. We saw their former home in
the beautiful suburb of Glenview and then we all joined George and Steven, after their golf game, for lunch at their local County Club.

George and Steven also arranged for me to attend a game at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and the Dodgers, a lifelong dream for me. We had great seats in the field boxes and our neighbors were all very gracious. George explained that everyone in Chicago loves the Cubs, but nobody really expects them to win, so they are less disrespectful of the visiting teams. Before the game we had a “Brew and a Brat” and watched the kids chasing batting practice balls hit over the fence into the surrounding streets.

Three quick anecdotes about the game:

I mentioned the people chasing balls outside the stadium. In the 5th inning a Dodger hit a homerun over the left field wall. George said, “Watch what happens now.”
As the Dodger rounded the bases the Cub Left Fielder faced the fence. Before the Dodger reached home plate, the ball came sailing back over the wall. George explained that it’s a tradition for homerun balls off the bats of opposing teams to be returned over the wall by the kids outside. You have to wonder if balls hit by Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds while setting their homerun records were also returned in spite of their escalating market value.

Even us Californians know that it was a tradition for legendary announcer Harry Carey to lead the crowd singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. What is less well known is that since Carey’s death the tradition is carried on by “celebrity” song leaders? That day Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bear and Professional Football Coach, led us in song. All I can say it’s a good thing Ditka didn’t have to make his living as a singer.

Finally, it was interesting to me that Sammy Sosa, the incredibly talented Cub Right Fielder, is sincerely loved by every Cub fan. After every catch in Right Field he tosses the ball up to a group of kids who hang out in the bleachers on the chance they’ll get one of Sosa’s gift balls. I learned later that Sosa’s contract calls for him to be able to do this and he pays for every ball. Right in front of us, in the front row of the Field Boxes, there was a little boy who stood by his mother every time Sosa went out to the field and waved a small Dominican Flag. Sosa is, of course, Dominican, and is worshiped by kids there. About the 6th inning Sosa spotted the little boy and ran a long way out of his way after a 3rd out catch to hand him a ball. Everybody in our section cheered his thoughtfulness.

What a far cry Sosa is from Home Run record holder Barry Bonds of the Giants who is hated by his team-mates and routinely insults his fans young and old.

George and I left the game early and took the world famous “El” back to the Hotel.

George and Susie also took us on a special “Architectural Foundation Boat Tour” up the Chicago River to see and appreciate the magnificent architecture which abounds in that city. It is a thing about which Chicagoans are justly proud.

Our visit happened to coincide with the “Cow Decorating” contest that started a trend nationwide. Life size statues of cows were placed strategically all over Cook County and artists were invited to decorate them. There were, of course, prizes for the winners and we were amazed at the talent and inventiveness of some of the artists. A year later when we went to Washington, D. C. we found that City had copied the Chicago idea and had invited artists to decorate donkeys and elephants, for obvious reasons.

The day before we left Chicago we went to see the “Blue Man”, the comedy/satire/pantomime show that has since gone to New York and Las Vegas to rave reviews. It was great, great fun. I couldn’t describe it if I wanted to, you’ll just have to see it. Take my word for it, you’ll enjoy it too.

WASHINGTON D. C. Patricia and I decided to attend a fundraising dinner for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee at which George Bush was featured speaker in Washington, D.C. in the spring of 2002. It happened that George (Sladoje not Bush) was testifying before a Congressional Committee on the California Energy Crisis at the same time, so we agreed to meet for dinner.

We met at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse near Dupont Circle; home of the finest steak you’ll ever eat. We shared a bottle of wine and took our time eating dinner. What a treat to meet a friend in a faraway place.

THE CALIFORNIA ENERGY CRISIS When the California Legislature, with much fanfare, “deregulated power” in California in the mid 90s, they deregulated wholesale prices, but not retail. They didn’t want to face the wrath of voters if electric bills went too high. The California Power Exchange was created to provide a mechanism to handle an unregulated wholesale market. Like all exchanges, it worked quite efficiently.

Unfortunately Environmentalists in California had blocked the construction of new power plants for decades, so the supply as a percent of demand was declining steadily. As the supply went down, the price went up from the producers to the power companies who were severely limited in passing on those price increases to the public. The “Power shortages” ensued and the Politicians promptly announced, “deregulation doesn’t work.”

Gray Davis, then the Governor, panicked at the height of the crisis and signed long term contracts with power suppliers at exorbitant rates in hopes of quieting the public. He announced that the problem was with suppliers and the Power Exchange where the suppliers sold their power. Like all Democratic Politicians, Davis refused to place any blame on the real culprits, the Legislature whose members were afraid to let the “Free Market” work on retail prices, and the environmentalists who caused the shortage in the first place.

You might say (to paraphrase Harry Truman) “Gray Davis couldn’t take the heat, so he got out of the kitchen.”

A LESSON IN ECONOMICS: Think about it; if your own price of electricity doubles, won’t you find a way to reduce your consumption? Of course you will. So, you reduce your electricity use. At the very same time some producer discovers he can make more money and increases his production. The price stabilizes. That is the law of supply and demand. That’s also the definition of a “Free Market.” Unfortunately the process takes a little time and is sometimes painful. Too bad so many legislators are ignorant of basic economics and unwilling to stand up to an angry, if uninformed, electorate.

THE END OF THE POWER EXCHANGE: Through it all George kept the Exchange going until the Politicians decided to shut it down. George remained with the Exchange to wrap up the business of the group, but now found himself with some time on his hands. So, he joined Rotary, too.

SIERRA MADRE ROTARY CLUB For more than 5 years Susie and, then, George were active members of the Rotary Club. They hosted Board meetings at their home in addition to numerous “Fireside Meetings” and parties. They willingly volunteered to work on and chair such events as the Fourth of July Dunk Tank, The Annual Wisteria Festival tri-tip sandwich barbecue, the annual Pioneer Days Dinner Dance and the summer “Concert in the Park” featuring impersonators of famous rock stars. All of these were successful at least in part because of Susie and George’s leadership and hard work.

Meetings of the Rotary Club were always more fun with the Sladojes around. George shamelessly promoted the Ohio State Buckeyes and feigned confusion over the rules of the raffle, to the delight of all. Susie and George did a joint “Craft Talk” where they talked about their childhoods and their early days together. That was “Part one” and they have promised to come back to deliver “Part two.”

A FOND FAREWELL When George and Susie announced that they were selling their Sierra Madre home and moving back to Chicago in early 2004 it was a great disappointment for their friends in Sierra Madre. George is starting a new company and they will be moving into a condo in downtown Chicago. While we’re all sad to lose them in Sierra Madre, we’re excited about their opportunity.

A dinner was held at the La Parisienne in Duarte on Friday Night, February 13th to celebrate our friendship and bid them a fond farewell. Present at the dinner, in addition to the Sladojes of course, were Frank and Patricia Hall, Spike and Carolyn Crowley, Kris and Sue Poulsen, Dan and Julie Alle, Denis and Karen Keegan, Rudy and Susanne Hayek, Bob and Carmen Thibault; Steve and Marge Garrett, and Bob Young and Susan Nunnery.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: George never did explain what a Buckeye really is.

JUST DESSERTS: The California electorate recalled Gray Davis in 2003.

Thanks, George and Susie, for the memories.

See you in Chicago.



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