OurLA.org reports that last Thursday more than 50 concerned community members came to a very last-minute meeting with Tom LaBonge to talk about proposed changes to the Park Rangers and the removal of Chief Torres. The community members who attended were from all walks of life, yet their message throughout the two hour session was perfectly clear and uniform: Leave the Park Rangers alone.
This included complaint upon complaint about the removal of 30-year veteran Albert Torres as Chief. LaBonge was reported to pull the "that's a personnel issue" card each time someone brought up Torres, but did actually settle down to listen as person after person told him that the services Park Rangers provide - even if severely decreased from optimum levels due to budget restrictions - are an absolute must in the larger parks in this City.
Shortly thereafter, the Department of Recreation and Parks was spinning the issue pretty hard, and the spin text sounds like it came directly the upper management doofus who wrote the memo. We use the word "doofus" because the memo is entirely insane double-speak: specialization = efficiency .... and .... reduction in services = efficiency. Who did this
....bzzzzzzst! Wrong answer, Last-Century Management! Meet me on camera three.
CAMERA THREE: Recreation and Parks, let me give you a piece of advice. In this day of information going viral almost instantly, your dirty little department secrets will never ever be secret again. With this in mind, you just might want to rethink your managerial style. But we digress.
So here's the highly-politicized spin, probably from a Recreation and Parks upper management suit:
2009-10-10 12:59: It's about time that the "Generalist" approach to the Park Ranger duties are finally being given a more clear and definitive direction. The confusion in the role of the Park Rangers has been in effect for over 15 years. The agency itself is at constant odds from within. The Park Ranger staff members are tugging at opposite ends. The Civilian Park Rangers (and some sworn) would like for the agency to take on a more deffinitive role in wildlife resource conservation and education as curators of the regional parks. Meanwhile, the sworn Park Rangers would like to continue to focus on engaging in law enforcement activity throughout the parks, despite the fact that they are not armed and often experience dangerous encounters that luckily have not resulted in an injury or a fatality.
The sworn Rangers need to realize that they are limited in how they handle law enforcement and should allow the LAPD and the Office of Public Safety to continue to address the crime element in the parks. The Rangers should focus on urban wildlife resource management to ensure that vegetation overgrowth does not create a danger to our community as the 2007 Griffith Park fire did and they should also monitor wildlife population so that we don't have people attacked by Coyotes (and subsequently having to shoot and kill our urban wildlife -as we did last month).
As it is, there aren't a sufficient number of rangers in the City to effectively sustain any of the many aspects of their current duties and assignments. In fact, the numbers are so low, that they are currently unable to staff the 9 regional parks and instead are only dedicating ranger resources to one City Park (Griffith).