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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Questions Still Swirl Around Griffith Fire

Tomorrow is the 1-year anniversary of the devastating Griffith Park fire. One of the largest fires in the long history of a historic park is rumored to have been started by an off-duty Camp LeJeune marine who fell asleep with a cigarette in hand sometime in the early afternoon. One year on, no one has ever been charged with starting the fire, and details about this individual and why they were in the park in the first place are limited. In fact, in reviewing the fire and the resulting goings-on since that fateful afternoon, there are still a whole lot of questions that remain unanswered.

To mark the historic occasion, it probably goes without saying that the Autocrat of Griffith Park will be holding court. Tom LaBonge and his ongoing obsession with the LAFD takes over the Greek Theatre parking area at 10AM Thursday so he can ask everyone on City time about the high school they attended. Various City officials will be forced to make appearances. Rec and Parks General Manager Jon Mukri is one of the lucky ones performing at the Autocrat’s bidding tomorrow instead of running his department.

Hey Jon M,

Q: While Griffith Park was under full closure post-fire, why was Sunset Stables allowed to conduct business in the park while other rental stables surrounding the park were banned?

Q: Why wasn't the investigation of such a high profile fire handled by LAFD or LAPD instead of the Office of Public Safety?

Along with LAFD Chief Barry, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be there to honor the dedicated firefighters who worked the blaze. This includes the Los Angeles City Park Rangers whose unit the Mayor already showed his appreciation for by slashing them in half with a swipe of his pen a few weeks ago.

Hey Tony,

Q: What happened to your promise of a fully staffed and equipped Park Ranger Division?

Q: Why did you make Recreation and Parks pay millions of dollars from their budget toward the cost of fire recovery when the funds should have come from the City's emergency contingency account?

Obviously missing from tomorrow's festivities will be our exalted Governator whose caring concern for the disaster graced the front pages of every fishwrap in town.

Q: Hey Arnie, what happened to that $50 million you promised Recreation and Parks? Wouldn’t this have made a huge difference in Rec and Parks' financial situation now?

And finally -

Hey Councilman LaBonge,

Q: Why were you regularly leading private parties off-trail in the environmentally sensitive burn areas when the areas were closed?

Q: Why was a single exclusive group of some of your biggest financial supporters given the honor of being the first ‘community group’ to help restore Griffith Park and why was it kept secret from the public until after the fact?

Q: Why did you tell anyone who would listen that 'hydromulch doesn’t work' when six decades of good data shows otherwise?

Q: Why did you push for a curb-to-curb smoking ban in tinder-dry Los Angeles parks, then undermine the law at the 12th hour by making exceptions of golf courses and events venues like the Greek Theatre?

Q: Why are you holding ‘Park Restoration’ community group events that plant tree after tree after tree in a Chaparral - not Forest - ecosystem?

Q: Why have your groups been allowed to plant non-natives in a native ecosystem?

Q: Why are your aides telling members of the public things like ‘wild cucumber is invasive and needs to be ripped out from the burn area’? (Wild cucumber is decidedly native.)

Q: Why are you pushing for yet another non-native, manufactured artificial ‘garden’ to be named in honor of one of Los Angeles’ 20-plus “Sister Cities” to be built in the natural wilderness portion of the burn area and that will be preferentially managed by more of your big financial supporters?

So many questions, so few answers.