As a graduate of Beverly Hills High and UCLA, Casey Wasserman knows and appreciates the value of a first-rate public education.

So the 31-year-old chairman and chief executive of Wasserman Media Group LLC, a sports marketing company that owns the L.A. Avengers arena football team, was making a statement with his recent $6 million donation. The recipient was not the Los Angeles Unified School District, but instead Green Dot Public Schools, the non-profit organization that operates five charter high schools and is one of the leading critics of the LAUSD.

Green Dot will combine the Wasserman gift with $5 million it has already raised from grants and fund-raising events to operate six small schools around Jefferson High School, one of L.A.'s worst-performing public schools.

"We need a new model for fixing public education," said Wasserman, the grandson of Hollywood mogul Lew Wasserman and the president and chief executive of the Wasserman Foundation. He posed for a photo with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who backs Green Dot and is pushing a plan to transfer control of the LAUSD to city officials by 2008.

Steve Barr, chairman and chief executive of Green Dot, said the goal is to siphon off Jefferson's ninth grade class into Green Dot schools by offering smaller class sizes, less bureaucracy and higher pay for teachers. Green Dot is already working with parents and community groups in South Los Angeles to galvanize support.

"This issue of public education is killing our city," said Barr. "If we can make inroads at Jefferson, it could set an example for the rest of our city."

The old adage is that "a man can't have too many shoes." Alan Rothenberg apparently believes the same goes for titles.

The founder and chairman of 1st Century Bank and a former Latham & Watkins partner added another last week. He was named a director of California Pizza Kitchen, which was founded by two attorneys, Rick Rosenfield and Larry Flax.

Rothenberg now serves on the boards of five publicly traded companies, including Arden Realty Inc., Firstwave Technologies Inc., and Zenith National Insurance Corp.

In addition, he is president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, chairman of the Los Angeles Sports Council, and chairman of Premier Partnerships, a sports marketing firm.

The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach is honoring Robert Gumbiner, the founder and former chairman of FHP International, the health maintenance organization that merged with PacifiCare, this week.

Gumbiner has contributed a total of $40 million to MoLAA in the past decade, including $2.2 million for the museum's recent renovation and expansion. The museum will dedicate a new sculpture garden "The Robert Gumbiner Sculpture and Events Garden," to pay tribute to the museum's founder.

Staff reporter Kate Berry can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 228, or by email at

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