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stories along The Way

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last known wild jaguar trapped, euthanized

Courtesy the Arizona Daily Star

Snaring deliberate, and state lacked permits, US reports

Jaguar's capture broke law, feds say 

Tony Davis and Tim Steller Arizona Daily Star
Posted: Friday, January 22, 2010 12:00 am 

The jaguar, which was given the name Macho B, was first captured Feb. 18 southwest of Tucson.
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Last year's capture of the last known wild jaguar in the United States by state workers was intentional - and the evidence points to criminal wrongdoing, a new federal report says. The evidence against an Arizona Game and Fish Department subcontractor - and possibly a Game and Fish employee - is in the hands of federal prosecutors in Tucson, says the report from the U.S. Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.
Also, Game and Fish lacked permits needed to trap the jaguar, whether the capture was intentional or not, which violates the Endangered Species Act, the report says. The state agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had argued since the Feb. 18 capture southwest of Tucson that Game and Fish had appropriate permits.

Ten days after the jaguar's initial capture, officials recaptured the jaguar, Macho B, on March 2 because he was showing signs of decline. Government officials and veterinarians at the Phoenix Zoo concluded the jaguar should be euthanized. State and federal officials initially said Macho B walked into a snare intended for mountain lions or bears. They launched investigations after a wildlife technician told the Arizona Daily Star she had been directed to put female jaguar scat at the site of the trap two weeks before the capture.
The product of a nine-month investigation, the inspector general's report does not name individuals who could be liable. However, the description of the Arizona Game and Fish subcontractor matches in several respects wildlife biologist Emil McCain.

McCain, who was employed by the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, was working as a subcontractor for a Game and Fish contractor, Clark's Guide Service, on a mountain-lion and black-bear study when the jaguar was captured. McCain was simultaneously working on jaguar research using motion-sensing cameras, as the subcontractor describe in the report was. And e-mails between McCain and Game and Fish employees show that in the weeks before Macho B's capture, they were making preparations in case Macho B was caught, a detail also repeated in the report. McCain did not respond to a phone call or an e-mail seeking comment on the report.

It is unclear which of the Arizona Game and Fish employees involved in Macho B's capture was the one cited in the report as possibly involved in criminal wrongdoing. In a statement issued late Thursday, Game and Fish officials said they stand by their previous position that the department did not direct anyone to capture Macho B initially. Game and Fish "disagrees with any assertion in the report that the department did not have a valid permit," the statement adds. A U.S. Attorney's Office spokeswoman didn't return a phone call or an e-mail about the criminal investigation's status. A supervising biologist working for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Phoenix also incorrectly approved a form of necropsy for the jaguar that left doubts about the cause of the animal's death last March, the report says. Steve Spangle, a supervisor for all endangered-species activities for the service in Arizona, approved what's called a cosmetic necropsy rather than a full necropsy because he didn't know the difference between the two procedures and, in fact, had never heard the term "necropsy," the report says.

Otherwise, the report exonerates the wildlife service, saying there is no evidence suggesting criminal involvement by any service or Interior Department employee. Service employees were not involved in the mountain-lion/black-bear study that resulted in the jaguar's capture, nor in the capture and recapture of Macho B, the report says. The report also doesn't criticize the service's decision to euthanize Macho B after authorities determined he had irreversible kidney failure. It says that after a University of Arizona Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory issued a report last March finding no kidney failure in the jaguar's tissues, two other outside reviewers concluded that the animal did have kidney failure. They were the U.S. Geological Survey's wildlife lab in Madison, Wis., and Linda Munson, a specialist on large cats and a professor at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The inspector general's probe was launched shortly after the wildlife service's law enforcement officials began a criminal investigation April 1. The request for both investigations came from U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat.

In a statement, Grijalva said Thursday that the wildlife service should work with the Justice Department to take immediate action against Game and Fish. The service also should suspend the state agency's authority to manage any jaguars that may appear in the United States until the problems unearthed by the report are fixed, he said. Arizona Game and Fish said in its statement Thursday that it is disappointed it was never contacted during the inspector general's investigation. "The report contains allegations and opinions apparently untested by the IG," Game and Fish said. "Many of those assertions have been previously addressed by the department and present little or no new information." Game and Fish also said that because the new report is a public version that excludes some information, "it still represents a redacted and therefore incomplete version." The state agency is conducting an internal investigation of the Macho B capture and death but has refused to discuss or release details because of the criminal investigation.

The wildlife service's Spangle said he can't comment on the report, on orders from his superiors. Tom Buckley, a service spokesman, said the service cannot comment on the continuing criminal investigation, and can't answer any questions right now about whether the state's authority over jaguars should be suspended.
"This is a decision for senior managers to make. Nobody at that level has yet seen this (report)," said Buckley.
The report's conclusion exculpating the service cuts two ways, said Michael Robinson of the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity, which has long been involved in litigation over jaguar management. The report shows that Fish and Wildlife deferred completely to Arizona Game and Fish in managing jaguars and other endangered species, Robinson said. "From the very outset, the treatment of the jaguar has badly needed adult supervision," he said.

Macho B was captured last Feb. 18 when he walked into a trap set as part of a Game and Fish study to capture, radio-collar and study black bears and mountain lions along the Mexican border. Looking "healthy and hearty" at the time of his release six hours later, the jaguar slowed dramatically a week later while roaming in the woods and was recaptured March 2. He was flown to Phoenix, where veterinarians with the Phoenix Zoo gave him blood tests, diagnosed him with kidney failure and euthanized him. The criminal investigation was sparked by allegations made last March by Janay Brun, a former jaguar detection-project technician, that McCain had told her to put female jaguar scat at the same trap site two weeks before the capture. McCain denied the allegation. However, the inspector general's investigators concluded the capture was deliberate after reviewing more than 90 documents and notes from 38 interviews conducted by wildlife service agents, its report says. On Thursday, Brun said she feels vindicated by the inspector general report.

The Inspector General's Office was briefed last May by the criminal investigators and given access to all their documents and interviews, the report says. Evidence suggests that the unnamed subcontractor and Game and Fish employees knew that Macho B was roaming in that area, the report says. These conclusions confirm conservationists' long-held suspicions that the capture was intentional, said Craig Miller, of Defenders of Wildlife. It was obvious to environmentalists that the jaguar had been in that area for a long time because it had been photographed there at least a decade before, Miller said. For years, the issue of risks to Macho B had been hotly debated within a two-state Jaguar Conservation Team, "but our concerns were flat-out ignored," Miller said Thursday. The report also pointed to three key items leading to conclusions that the state didn't have a valid permit to capture the jaguar and that federal officials weren't involved in decision-making in the capture:

• Investigators interviewed a wildlife service coordinator, Marty Tuegel, who works in the Albuquerque office, who told them that the department lacked a proper permit to capture a jaguar under the Endangered Species Act. Tuegel said the state's broader permit for intentional endangered-species captures didn't list jaguars by name and the department hadn't obtained a federal biological opinion needed to carry out an accidental capture of an endangered species.

• The investigators interviewed a second service biologist in Tucson - whom the report doesn't name - who said he knew the subcontractor had placed "camera traps" in the area to photograph Macho B. But that biologist also said neither he nor anyone else in the service's Tucson office was involved in making decisions for these projects.

• The same official had warned state officials in advance of the possibility that a jaguar could be captured during the study. He sent an e-mail Feb. 26, 2008, to Arizona Game and Fish employees Todd Atwood and Terry Johnson, the report says. But his request for a meeting on the subject was rebuffed. "The biologist said that he was intimidated by Johnson and his attitude that the AZGFD could do whatever it wanted in Arizona," the report says.

Game and Fish did not reply to that account in its Thursday statement. Game and Fish said the inspector general misunderstood the state's authority under its general Endangered Species Act permit.

Contact reporters Tony Davis at 806-7746 or and Tim Steller at 807-8427 or

Friday, January 29, 2010

When Arrogance Rules the Court

Mayor's Office pushes pet pool project over basic quality-of-life

Imperial Courts is a project in South Los Angeles. Public housing built back in 1944, it is a community desperately in need of help.

By definition, in Los Angeles the projects is a place in a tough part of town. It's a place where a significant fraction of the population is trying to survive on incomes at or below poverty level. It is a place with at-risk and low-income youth who desperately need healthy programs - both educational and recreational - to help them stay out of trouble and tool up for successful lives. It's usually a place where pride in ownership and pride in home is tough to come by because facilities are typically run down and ill-maintained due to lack of funding.

Imperial Courts is no exception.  So when the Mayor's office says that even in these terribly difficult financial times in Los Angeles he is channeling $5-6 million in recreational funding into Imperial Courts, you'd think the community would be overjoyed. So why, in an interview with KPCC's Frank Stoltz, was Imperial Courts resident Shawn Washington less than enthused? Because the funds are not going to improving the property, nor are they going to healthy programming for the community's youth.

The Mayor is going to build Imperial Courts a pool.

In a speech at Imperial Courts earlier this year, someone asked the Mayor if they could have a pool. Villaraigosa said 'yeah - sure You can have a pool.'

Washington's response?

"We do not need a swimming pool over here in the Imperial Courts housing projects. We need training, mentoring programs so that we can try to save some of these youngsters in our community. A swimming pool is just to be cool. We need jobs."

It really doesn't mater what a young man who grew up in the Imperial Court projects believes. When the King makes the court a promise, by darned, he's gonna keep it. Precious recreation funding is going to build the subjects of Imperial Courts a pool.

It doesn't matter if the surrounding community won't feel free or safe to access the pool, either.

To heck with things like best practices, and needs assessments, and quality-of-life. Those are things for modern politician-manager-types in towns where sanity, order, discipline, logic, fiscal responsibility, and the greatest good rule.

Sadly, they are not for Los Angeles, where arrogance continues to rule. Arrogance - and rule - is so entrenched in Los Angeles politics that if the public does become interested in this use of the few recreational dollars remaing in Los Angeles,  and the Mayor's office does react, you can expect that Imperial Courts will get renovations and programs -and- a pool, rather than just getting what they best need. Meanwhile, another community in need will be forced to do without.

After all, the King has made a promise.

Listen to Frank Stoltz's full report here.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The 'Net' Move for Conan?

Now that Conan O'Brien, rightly or wrongly, has been dethroned from the Tonight Show many have wondered what his next career move should be.

Predictably most assume a late night show at Fox is really the only option for O'Brien given that CBS and ABC already have successful late night franchises and that really no one before or since Arsenio Hall has conquered after prime time talk in the syndication world.

But I believe that opportunity exists for Conan who is more than just a talk show host (and originally was badly shoehorned into the role when he took over for David Letterman back in the waning hours of the first George Bush administration).  Conan's true expertise is as a creator of cutting edge content, going back to his days a writer on SNL and The Simpson, and, as demonstrated through the whole "I'm With CoCo" movement, a powerful brand.

No, Mr. Murdoch and his associates at News Corp need to do more than give Conan a job.

They need to make him a partner.

Imagine, as part of his deal, Conan would be given some share, even if microscopic, of ownership in Fox which could be re-branded "Conan O'Brien's FOX Network."

With the massive cross-ownership of media properties Fox's parent company, News Corp, has under it's corporate umbrella, the synergy that could be leveraged between a Fox-O'Brien merger could be huge.  Of course, a talk show at 11:00 p.m. would be part of it, but even with O'Brien's popularity, given current realities, it would take at least a few years for the  network to gain the clearance across it's affiliates to come even close to taking on Jay and Dave.

However by bringing O'Brien on board, some of the following laundry list could really boost both brands and lift the tide for the 11pm show boats:
  • Make Conan the Executive Producer of The Simpsons.
  • Conan's production company, Conanco, could produce  both television shows and films for Fox, including edgy comedies for the FX Channel and Fox's what the hell do we do with it second chain, MyNetworkTV.
  • Have Conan make funny visits to Fox News Channel shows, or big games on FoxSportsNet.
  • Conan could be the key to invigorating NewsCorp's moribund MySpace which has been abandoned primarily for Facebook and Twitter.
  • Air special Conan pay-per-view extravaganzas on Fox-owned DirecTV.
  • Conan could have a regular column in News Corp's massive network of newspapers on nearly every continent including New York's infamous Post.
  • Besides the Fox Network and Fox's cable properties, News Corp owns even more TV networks in Europe, the Mid-East, South America, the South Pacific and Asia.  International Conan - not a problem!
Yes Conan needs more than just another late night talk show to replace being toppled from his dream job of taking the Johnny Carson chair.  The boy needs his own network.

Budget LA meets this Saturday

BudgetLA convenes "Budget Crisis - Next Steps #2"
NC proposals for Partnership and Solutions

LOS ANGELES – BudgetLA convenes this Saturday, January 30, at 10 am with Neighborhood Council representatives and Community leaders coming together to meet with the experts in a focused session that is designed to educate, to empower, and to continue delivering budget recommendations that come from a community-based commitment to working toward immediate, short-term and long-term solutions to LA's budget crisis.

The "Budget Crisis - Next Steps #2" session will focus on answering the question "Is Pension Reform the solution to LA's Budget Crisis?" and features a guest speaker who is a recognized and respected expert in pension funding. This session is the follow-up to the powerful Budget Advisory Committee session that generated 15 "pension reform" actions that were presented to the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee this past Monday at the Van Nuys City Hall.

Saturday's workshop will include breakout sessions that will provide attendees with the opportunity to grapple with the issues and to work on specific solutions, all of which will be integrated in the second round of community recommendations that the BudgetLA community will present to the neighborhood councils for endorsement and for implementation.

To that end, NC leaders will be conducting short presentations on how neighborhood councils can best evaluate the city's budget, how to best use Board resolutions, how to file Community Impact Statements that resonate, and how they can mobilize the community to engage the Mayor and the City Council.

The fundamental position of the BudgetLA movement is that "everything is on the table and must be considered as we work together to solve the budget crisis and that neighborhood councils and community groups must be at that table as partners in the process."

BudgetLA will be meeting three times in the upcoming days, starting with Saturday, January 30 at 10 am, then Saturday, February 13 at 10 am, then again on Saturday, February 27 at 10 am. All meetings will take place at the Hollywood City Hall, 6501 Fountain Ave., Hollywood 90028.

LA's Budget Crisis is of such epic proportions that City Council President Eric Garcetti has announced that beginning next week, the Council would devote two of their three meetings each week to the budget crisis and job creation.

The NC reps have taken a full-spectrum approach to the budget crisis and believe that it is essential that the community engage with our elected officials as well as city staff to pursue Revenue innovations along with Pension reform while maintaining prioritized delivery of City Services and the implementation of Organizational improvements, all of which work together to guarantee that Los Angeles take its place as a Great City.

Through it all, the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee has committed to holding four community budget meetings around the city in preparation of the 2010-2011 Budget. The first meeting took place this past Monday and the next meeting is on Monday, February 22nd at 6:00 pm at Hamilton High School, 955 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles 90034.

LA City's parks: On the brink of the abyss

Parks and recreation programs are labor-intensive. They need people to run and maintain them, plain and simple.

Immune to that fact, the Mayor and Los Angeles City Council insist on balancing the City's budget on the backs of the departments heaviest in direct public services. This includes Recreation and Parks.

Declaring a sudden "budget emergency" that was five years in the making, our electeds now have personnel cuts on the table that will reduce the already-lean workforce of the Department of Recreation and Parks by a full 44% of minimum needed to maintain services, with many more cuts and furloughs in the wings. Concessions by employees via their unions could save these jobs. Cuts to LAPD and Fire, and even bankruptcy could make substantial improvements to the situation.

However, these latter measures aren't even on the table. In fact, in stark contrast to the hatchet-job on public services, the Mayor now has nineteen (19) deputy mayors making well over six figures on his staff, having just hired yet another one. He is also determined to hire more police.

Meanwhile, there is no public outcry.


Dark times indeed for our City parks. As we stare down the spectre of the death of Los Angeles's parks system at the hands of our Mayor and City Council, it's probably instructive to see from whence it came and how we got to where we are today.

The current general manager has acquired more park land and created more partnerships than any of his predecessors, but to what end?

History of the parks system in Los Angeles

From: from paradise to parking lot by Lawrence Culver (2007)

In contrast to its careful zoning and planning in other areas, Los Angeles only haphazardly accumulated a parks system. The first public space in Los Angeles was the Plaza, created when the pueblo was founded in 1781. Though the settlement had to be relocated due to flooding, a space for the Plaza remained at the pueblo"s center. Several other city parks were carved out of unsold communal pueblo lands in the late nineteenth century. These included Pershing Square and Elysian Park, then the largest park in the city, which was created from several hundred acres of hilly terrain north of downtown.

Other early parks were given as donations. By far the most significant of these came in 1896, when local magnate Griffith J. Griffith deeded 3,500-acre Griffith Park ñ the largest urban park in the nation ñ to the city in perpetuity. The response of local political leaders, however, was underwhelming. The new park lay outside city limits and far from streetcar lines, surrounded by large expanses of undeveloped land. Moreover, Griffith was hardly an ideal philanthropist. In 1903 he shot his wife in a drunken rage, convinced she intended to use his fortune to fund Catholic schemes for global domination. She survived, but the city did not accept the $700,000 Griffith had set aside for the park's improvement until after his death in 1919.

Los Angeles did not strive to secure parkland, but it excelled in another area of recreation. In 1904 the city was the first in the nation to create a Department of Playgrounds. This was a landmark in the national Playgrounds Movement, a reform effort of the Progressive Era, which aimed to provide children ñ particularly urban, immigrant children ñ with recreational spaces where they could exercise and socialize, and be "Americanized" in the process. As with city planners who divided LA by race and separated residential and industrial areas, the Playground Department took as its mission the separation of spaces for safe, productive play, removed from the dangers of urban life. For its personnel, children"s play was serious business. This was reflected in a motto emblazoned on some of its publications: "The test of whether a civilization will live or die is the way it spends its leisure."

Though the city led the nation in playground policy, it consistently lagged in the acquisition and development of parkland. Parks were treated as an afterthought in comparison to streets or sewers. City and county officials tried to impose a system, similar to ones in some other cities, to force subdividers to devote land for parks and playgrounds. Many developers simply refused. In coastal areas, some developers asserted that the beach was the only recreational space future residents would need. Others offered land for parks, but demanded they be ornamental only, precluding recreational areas or playgrounds that might draw "undesirables."

Aside from these limited efforts, the city of Los Angeles did little to alleviate its parks shortage, even though a succession of studies and surveys demonstrated the growing problem. Perhaps the single most significant of these reports was the 1930 Olmstead -Bartholomew plan, "Parks, Playgrounds and Beaches for the Los Angeles Region." Its authors called for the creation of vast urban parks, parkways, beach recreation areas, scenic drives, and a variety of other amenities which, if enacted, would have created a very different city and region from the one that came to be. Yet the authors did not propose the construction of some fanciful arcadia. They planned for a vast urban area, complete with a network of traffic arteries that foreshadowed later freeways. The report pointedly gave primary consideration to lower-income residents, who made up a majority of the city"s population, and had less leisure time and available recreational space than the more affluent. Nevertheless, fears about taxes, the plan"s cost, and the worsening Depression prevented its adoption. The report was shelved without even being released to the public, and remained little-known until rediscovered by historians and urban planners.

The ordinances that governed Los Angeles city parks, playgrounds, and other recreational areas in the early twentieth century made no reference to race. Indeed, it appears that these recreational areas were initially integrated, though not necessarily always welcoming. By the time the 1920s arrived, however, matters had changed. All city pools were segregated. Revealing swimming attire, and the sharing of public locker rooms and showers, permitted a degree of interracial physical intimacy that a significant number of whites found troubling.

Yet pools were just one place where people of different races might swim together. A far larger area of contention was 75-mile coastline of Los Angeles County. Local beaches were an important tourist attraction, and the premier recreational amenity for the entire region. In 1928, the Department of Playgrounds estimated that on summer weekends half a million people converged at area beaches ñ a figure equivalent to 25% of the county"s total population. Because of this, the city and county of Los Angeles began purchasing and managing beaches to ensure public access.

All taxpayers in Los Angeles County paid for beach purchases and maintenance. African Americans, however, were banned from almost all beaches in Los Angeles County. Worse yet, they were forced to pay taxes to buy up even more beach land that would prohibit them. This segregation appears to have begun earlier, whether through explicit ordinance or enforced by hostile white beachgoers and local police. The same tactics served to keep some parks effectively white-only.

At one time, the only beach African-Americans could visit was Bruce's Beach, a black-owned resort area in Manhattan Beach. In 1924, city officials concerned about the resort"s growing popularity condemned it. Another African-American beach, called the "Inkwell," was designated that same year in Santa Monica. It lay at the terminus of Pico Boulevard, and ran only the width of the street.

African-Americans fought back against the restriction of beaches and swimming pools. Individuals filed court cases, and the NAACP even organized a "swim in." At both beaches and pools, this resulted in the abandonment of explicitly segregationist policies in the 1930s. De facto segregation, however, would continue for decades more. Restrictive housing covenants also banned nonwhites from some area beaches, and as of 2003 some Malibu homeowners were still attempting to exclude all nonresidents, even though all California beaches are public under state law.

The segregation of recreational areas is certainly the most obvious example of racial bias in the development of parks and recreation in Los Angeles. Yet the lack of funding for recreational spaces and amenities in nonwhite areas of the city also functioned as a pernicious form of fiscal discrimination. In Latino East LA, residents complained of limited parks and a shortage of playgrounds. In Watts, requests for more parks, playgrounds, and a community pool were repeatedly rebuffed.

As the city grew, and as racial housing restrictions were overturned by the Supreme Court in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the racial and ethnic geography of Los Angeles changed. Many Jews moved from the Boyle Heights neighborhood east of downtown to the Westside. White families moved in huge numbers to new subdivisions spreading across the floor of the San Fernando Valley. Parks that had once served whites were now increasingly used by African Americans, Latinos, and Asians, and drew the working class and poor as well. White civic concern for these parks suffered accordingly.

One example was Pershing Square, which stood at the heart of the downtown financial district. Its fountain and lush landscaping made it a favorite lunchtime gathering place for white-collar workers. As downtown declined, however, Pershing Square also lost its luster. The park became a focus of LAPD surveillance due to its popularity as a place for activists to make speeches and stage protests, and also as a covert meeting place for gay men. The city passed ordinances banning alcohol and vagrants, and ultimately gouged out the park in the 1950s, leaving only a sparse garnish of greenery atop a subterranean parking structure. The parking was intended for predominantly white professionals, and the removal of trees and foliage made it easier to police the park. It also made Pershing Square a far less pleasant place to linger. The Department of Recreation and Parks described the new design as a "see-through, walk-through park."

Other parks were also sacrificed for construction projects and urban development. Wilshire Boulevard was extended directly through MacArthur Park. Freeways sliced off the edges of Griffith Park. In Elysian Park, the construction of the Pasadena Freeway created tunnels and roadcuts which destroyed parkland, and split the park in two. Another section of the park was sacrificed for the Golden State Freeway. More acreage was lost to LAPD facilities and Dodger Stadium. In Exposition Park, the 1932 Olympic Coliseum, and later the Los Angeles Sports Arena and the expansion of the Natural History Museum, occupied ever-larger swaths of shrinking park space.

There were geographic and monetary reasons to justify each of these construction projects. Yet it is an undeniable fact that by the time some of these projects began, many Anglos were moving away from downtown. The portion of Elysian Park cut off by freeway construction lay near Chinatown, and residential neighborhoods surrounding the rest of the park were increasingly Latino. Sacrificing portions of these parks was undoubtedly made far easier by the fact that so many of the people who depended on them for their recreation were no longer Anglo.

The Civil Rights Movement brought heightened power and aspirations to people of color and the poor in Los Angeles. Nonwhite areas did not receive large expansions of parkland, but some under-served areas did receive new community centers, pools, and expanded recreational programs. Unfortunately, some of the gains made in the 1950s and 1960s proved illusory, for subsequent events resulted in the gutting of park funding. The late 1960s saw the advent of new youth gangs and rising crime, and assaults and murders in parks frightened away residents, making them less interested in creating more park space. Though Los Angeles voters had approved park bond measures in the past, a proposed measure in 1971 was voted down.

In 1978, California voters passed Proposition 13, which rolled back property taxes. The ballot measure proved popular among homeowners during an economic downturn. As a result, however, state, county, and city governments slashed spending. The LA park budget was gutted. Parks could not compete with law enforcement, education, and medical care for scarce government funds.

Unsurprisingly, parks and recreation programs in poorer areas were devastated. Recreation centers and pools were closed. As the 1980s progressed, some parks were left derelict, abandoned by more affluent whites as terra incognita purportedly inhabited only by the homeless, drug dealers, and gang members. James Hadaway, director of the Department of Recreation and Parks, publicly stated that half of the city's parks were located in gang territories. A survey found that half of city residents were afraid to enter parks in their own neighborhoods

Park staff in more affluent areas worked to maintain programs and facilities by raising fees and soliciting donations from their surrounding neighborhoods. "Quimby" funds, which assessed fees on certain construction projects, provided some park funding, but primarily benefited the Westside, where much more residential construction took place. A 1983 study demonstrated this growing "recreation gap." It found that recreation centers in middle class and affluent neighborhoods, despite cuts, had 59% more staff, were able to provide 74% more hours of classes per week, and served 123% more children and adolescents than those in poor areas.

Much of the expansion of parkland that did come after 1970 was not in the form of traditional parks, but instead in the form of "open space." Tracts of undeveloped land, particularly in the Santa Monica Mountains, were set aside as natural areas to preserve habitat and provide hiking trails. Unfortunately, the state funding system which provided money for the acquisition of land for urban parks or open space often pitted advocates of one against the other. Open space proponents affiliated with environmental advocacy groups often proved more adept at securing these "Prop K" funds. Some proponents of open space also proved disinterested in the plight of poor, immigrant communities in Los Angeles, which lacked even small parks, and received marginal benefits from open space acquisitions in the Santa Monicas.

Despite all the problems apparent by the end of the twentieth century, there are some signs of hope. A diverse coalition of community activists, environmentalists, and planners helped secure the purchase of the "Cornfield," an area adjacent to Chinatown which had been slated for warehouse development, but will instead serve as a community park. A similar effort at Taylor Yard preserved another tract near the Los Angeles River. Likewise, supporters of park development fought back an effort to construct a power plant in the Baldwin Hills, which may eventually become a large oasis of urban open space and parkland to rival Griffith Park

A project such as the greening of the Los Angeles River seems especially promising. The river winds though neighborhoods that vary economically and racially. It cannot return to a fully natural state, but the river could offer large, linear swaths of open space for walking and bike trails. Community recreation centers, playgrounds, and playing fields could also be located alongside a reborn Los Angeles River, alleviating environmental and societal woes simultaneously.
Rejuvenating the river, or securing more urban parkland or open space, will never make Los Angeles again the edenic garden its boosters once proclaimed it to be. That past, such as it ever existed at all, is irrecoverable. Nor will any future plan completely alleviate the history of neglect and exclusion which has so long been a hallmark of park and recreation planning and policy in Los Angeles. It could, however, offer a better future for all of its citizens, rather than the limited prospects the city offered to so many in the twentieth century.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama Spanks SCOTUS!

Wow, right in front of the world! And deservedly so!

The IPad, MadTV-style

Yeah - it's crass but funny.

Hat tip to FishBowlLA for this one.

Hansen Dam Master Plan meeting

Sepulveda Basin - another of the City's large regional parks - is also going through this process in near sync with Hansen Dam.

Note the Army Corp's use of an old park sign that has not been on that site for at least 8 years. Looks like the ACoE is still living in the 1990s.

Hansen Dam Master Plan

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twitpic du jour

Sunset from Mt Hollywood - Twitpic taken by @ronmilam yesterday.

Life at Mayor Sam

Real deal this time. Check it out.

We'll leave you with this goofy quote from Greig Smith that just makes ya wonder:

Councilman Greig Smith is a reserve LAPD cop, and self-described child of the '60s. But he said he never used any drugs.

"This is not something I ever wanted to participate in for my personal body," said Smith.

As opposed to... ?

B&F Comm members snub BudgetLA, SF Valley

Last night at Van Nuys city hall was the lone B&F roadshow hearing for the San Fernando Valley. I dutifully hauled myself down there to participate in the public process, hoping that some semblance of rational thought had finally crept into the City's plan for addressing a historic budget crisis.

Silly me.

Thirty or so members of the public were there, but most of the committee itself wasn't: Paul Koretz, Jan Perry, and Bill Rosendahl didn't bother to show. I'm sure they had good reasons they couldn't make it. (It's tough being a rock star.) Greig Smith and chair Bernard Parks were there, but even they know that two of five does not constitute a quorum.

Nice way to snub the Valley, guys.

As for the hearing itself, the CAO did most of the talking and all of it was the usual garbage we've read in the papers and blogs, sounding pretty much like a certain Gary Larson cartoon:

"Mayor is in charge and on course blah blah economic downturn blah blah couldn't see it coming blah blah layoffs the only answer blah blah blah hiring more police blah blaaaaaah blah layoffs done in a considered fashion is the cure blah blah pension reform blah blah never bankruptcy blah blah . "

With his speech, the CAO proved himself to be the most shameless mouthpiece for the Mayor there is - even more so than the LA Times. One hopes the masses out there understand this when they read a quote or hear a sound byte from that office.

Noteworthy is that the CAO did not admit that the considered layoffs are simply to cut 1000 employees with less than five years on the job, regardless to impact on services.

At this point in the Budget soap opera, it is clear the Mayor has assigned himself to be the defacto General Manager of the entire city, making all major managerial decisions for every department in town. When the entire house of cards crashes - and it will - Villaraigosa will need to have himself fired. It's all his show - he's defining course of action and is controlling the execution. (good word, 'execution'.)

As advertised, the BudgetLA folks were indeed at the hearing in force with measured discussion about solutions, transparency, bankruptcy, and having a seat at the table. Since most of their commentary made sense, they were resoundingly ignored. Bernard Parks was too busy texting while most of them were speaking to absorb much of what was said, anyway.

The level of commentary aimed at the public by Parks and somewhat by the CAO was really simplistic, to the point of being patronizing. Yes, they didn't have a quorum, but what the committee did have was a room of people who had a clue about the budget situation. Rather than engaging in informed discussion which the City Attorney did say the committee sans quorum could do, the message was in essence:

'This is a complex problem, and all you little children don't have a clue what you are talking about. Let the grown-ups worry about it. Here's your milk and cookies. 'Nite 'nite.'

It probably goes without saying, but the lone B&F roadshow hearing in the San Fernando Valley was a complete waste of anyones' time if you actually care about the City. I left very seriously thinking that it is time for the Valley to cut loose the City Hall baggage and secede.

A lot of Valley people who have recently run for public office were actually in the audience last night. Wondering if Pete Sanchez, Tamar Galatzan, Mike McCue, Noel Weiss, and Zuma Dogg - a Valley guy at heart - all has the same 'secession' feeling I did.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Public takes on the budget crisis

[Note: Afternoon on the Terrace is way down here.]

Neighborhood Council Representatives

Address LA's Budget Crisis
NC proposals for Partnership & Solutions

LOS ANGELES – Neighborhood Council representativesfrom throughout the city will convene on the steps of the Van Nuys CityHall on Monday evening at 5:30 pm to present their initial recommendations for LA's Budget Crisis to the City Council Budget andFinance Committee along with a statement of their commitment to workingtoward immediate, short-term and long-term solutions.

Jay Handal, chair of the West LA Neighborhood Council, led the marathon session that drafted the initial proposals, and started with two basicpremises, that "everything is on the table and must be considered as wework together to solve the budget crisis and neighborhood councils mustbe at that table as partners in the process."
With that he openedSaturday's meeting at the Hollywood City Hall that saw people of allwalks take on bankruptcy, pensions, the delivery of city services andthe reorganization of the city system.

LA'scurrent budget crisis is one of epic proportions and business leadersare referring to it as a "pension crisis" that is unsustainable andthat is sure to decimate the delivery of city services while leading tomunicipal bankruptcy.

TheNC reps have taken a full-spectrum approach to the budget crisis andbelieve that it is essential that the community engage with our electedofficials as well as city staff to pursue Revenue innovations alongwith Pension reform while maintaining prioritized delivery of CityServices and the implementation of Organizational improvements, all ofwhich work together to guarantee that Los Angeles take its place as aGreat City.

The City Council's Budget and Finance Committeewill be conducting four budget meetings around the city over the next two months and Monday night'smeeting takes place at the Van Nuys City Hall, 14410 Sylvan Street, Van Nuys, 91401.

BudgetLA supports the activitiesof several neighborhood council groups, all working together to pursuesolutions to LA's Budget Crisis. Participants include the Los AngelesNeighborhood Council Coalition, the Valley Alliance of NeighborhoodCouncils, the Mayor's Budget Advisory Committee and representativesfrom neighborhood councils throughout the city. For more informationvisit where you will find a Calendar of upcomingevents, the Speakers Bureau, an archive of BudgetLA videos and links toindividual neighborhood councils. Join BudgetLA on Facebook and follow BudgetLA on Twitter(@BudgetLA) To get involved, join BudgetLA this Saturday, January 30 at10:00 am for "Budget Crisis - Next Steps #2" at Hollywood City Hall,6501 Fountain Ave., Hollywood 90028.

Public hearings on our quality of life in LA start tonight

The City's Budget and Finance Committee's 2010-2011 budget hearings road show cranks up tonight at Van Nuys City Hall. At stake are only all basic human services provided by the City to you and I.

Mismanagement by City electeds, excessive political influence of unions, and criminal pension mismanagement coupled with tax revenues dropping at rates not seen since the Great Depression are colliding. Right here, right now.

Police and Fire represent roughly 80% of Los Angeles's budget. Yet with crime in LA at reportedly historic lows, Villaraigosa is moving again to balance the City's budget on the backs of service departments while he continues to hire more police.

Balancing the budget this way while keeping basic services reasonably intact can't be done. Loss of services, severe layoffs, and a version of the the so-called "libertarian state" Mulholland Terrace described is eminent if no one has the guts to change the course. So far, no one  -especially our electeds- has had the guts to do it.

The Mayor and City Council brought us to this point and they did it with full knowledge and a lot of incompetent denial. They have refused to do anything fiscally responsible to correct the course, instead playing convoluted debt deferment games like "the Mayor's Early Retirement Packages (E-RIP)" that defers employee raises and the impact to the budget. E-RIP provides many union City employees with a cash incentive and five years of pension credit to retire, while resulting in the greatest loss of experienced employees ever seen in Los Angeles and defers costly pay raises to those remaining.

This has been the only substantive "solution" our electeds - the people looking out for our welfare - have put out there. Anyone watching knows it's bullshit. Addition cannot ultimately equal subtraction, no matter how long you wait for some economic miracle to occur.

Griffith Park Wayist is a local politics blog in the context of Los Angeles parks, environment, and recreation. The potential impact of our ourselves and our readers not responding to the situation is absolutely catastrophic. As it stands today, the status quo leads to public recreation in Los Angeles becoming extinct with the Mayor now cutting so many positions out of that department that no one will be left to do anything but maintenance.

This is not an exaggeration. Recreation requires face-to-face customer contact, and the City has a legal liability to keep up maintenance in parks facilities.

If there aren't enough employees to do both, where do you think the cuts must be made?

Do you actually think that service departments like Libraries, Street Services, Public Works, Sanitation, and Recreation and Parks can provide basic, fundamental functions with just 50% of the people needed to do the job?

Do you?

If you do, then just sit it out.  Everyone else, see you on the steps of Van Nuys City Hall at 5:15 for rally for a sustainable budget then testify at the public hearing at 6pm.

Budget on the Road1

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Artie Lange predicts CoCo's future

BudgetLA, neighborhood councils & public present budget action plan Monday

Update: Ron Kaye has the details here.

In a daylong meeting yesterday at Hollywood City Hall, a dedicated and knowledgeable group of community members joined BudgetLA to finalize the first white paper addressing solutions to LA's budget crisis.

The Mayor's budget for 2010-2011 as it stand now means major losses of public services and loss of jobs, leading to possible bankruptcy in the immediate future for Los Angeles.

The BudgetLA people brought out professionals from the community and neighborhood councils who are well versed in sustainable budgeting, pensions, and investing to develop a concrete, comprehensive plan of action -- something very seriously missing from City Hall to date.

Join BudgetLA, activists, and concerned members of the community for a rally and press conference outside Van Nuys City Hall immediately proceeding the first City Council Budget & Finance Committee public hearing on Monday night at 6pm.

More when we know more.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hiker who designed Observatory laser shows found dead in VC park

From the Ventura County Star:

Hiker Found Dead after Heavy Rains

A close friend of Matt Walter Chidgey, 40, of Thousand Oaks grieves after learning about his death at Wildwood Park Friday morning. He was reported missing after failing to return from a hike in the park.
Photo by Juan Carlo
A close friend of Matt Walter Chidgey, 40, of Thousand Oaks grieves after learning about his death at Wildwood Park Friday morning. He was reported missing after failing to return from a hike in the park.

The bassist for The Spazmatics, a popular local tribute band and comedy act, drowned in a park near his Thousand Oaks home this week after hiking in to see a waterfall swollen by heavy rains.
Matt Chidgey, 40, was found dead this morning in a narrow canyon in Wildwood Park’s Meadow Cove area, about 3/4 of a mile from a trailhead and 1/2 mile from the park’s main waterfall, said Detective Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. Chidgey was found by a close friend after an intense search through the muddy park that lasted more than 12 hours, friends and authorities said. The search included about 40 members of the sheriff’s search and rescue teams, search dogs, the sheriff’s Air Unit, more than two dozen friends and relatives, and the Ventura County Fire Department’s swift water rescue team.

The search began when Chidgey was reported missing Thursday evening after he failed to return from a hike to see the waterfall the day before. The Ventura County Medical Examiner’s office determined Chidgey drowned and it ruled his death an accident, said Shasta Gainer, a deputy Ventura County medical examiner. The exact circumstances of Chidgey’s drowning were unclear, but authorities believe it was related to the rains that swelled the park’s creeks and which were falling heavily Wednesday. Buschow said his body apparently washed down a creek. Park rangers said the 1,754-acre park, located in the northwestern part of the city, was closed beginning Sunday due to the rains. Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency Supervising Park Ranger Glen Kinney said much of the water that comes through the city runs through Wildwood Park and the area often has flash floods during heavy rains. Kinney said injuries in the park aren’t uncommon though he could only remember two deaths in the past couple of decades. Water was about 15 feet deep at points during the storm, he said. Jeff King, a Thousand Oaks resident who hiked into the park to see the waterfall two days before Chidgey’s fatal trip, said the falls had about 10 times more water than usual.

Chidgey lived within walking distance of the park, where he hiked frequently, according to friends and sheriff’s officials. He grew up in a home just a few miles away. Childhood friend and Spazmatics bandmate Mike Clark said Chidgey was not a daredevil, and he thinks his friend’s familiarity with the park might have led him to underestimate the danger from the swollen creeks. “He knew the place like the back of his hand,” Clark said. “He spent a lot of time down there.” Hours after Chidgey was found dead, dozens of close friends gathered at his home to celebrate his life. They recalled the musician as a loyal friend and a hilarious, talented entertainer who will be sorely missed. “He was a comedic genius,” Clark said. “I always told him that if he ever stopped playing music he could be a stand-up comic.” On stage in The Spazmatics, which combines ‘80s tribute songs with comedy, Chidgey played a character named “Curtis” and wore a helmet because the character supposedly had a soft skull. With antics such as playing a sound clip of tap dancing and dancing along in sneakers, Chidgey often made bandmates laugh so much that they had trouble playing. “Nobody could speak,” said part-time Spazmatics guitarist Jason Orme, 43, of Thousand Oaks. “It was so funny.”

A talented recording engineer, Chidgey also came to the rescue when the band needed sound equipment fixed, friends said. His sense for comedy with a twist of the bizarre came out early. When he was a student at Thousand Oaks High School, for example, he bought a Chevrolet Suburban, painted it pink with purple tiger stripes, fixed a stuffed iguana to the hood, rigged windshield fluid to come out of the iguana’s mouth and routinely drove the vehicle to and from school, friends said. Though he worked for most of his professional life as a musician, Chidgey also designed shows at the Laserium at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, managed other tribute bands and earned a physics degree at California State University, Northridge, friends said. With The Spazmatics, he played the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills weekly and had a long-running gig at Dragonfly bar in Hollywood and toured the U.S. He also went to Europe with a disco band, friends said. He was also a musical mentor to many. “He could reach into your soul and squeeze the best out of it,” said his brother, Lee Chidgey, 43. Though Chidgey died before middle age, he lived more than most, his brother said. “He lived a full life,” his brother said. “He died doing something he loved to do.” Friends cried together while his brother recounted searching for him until 3:30 a.m., stopping to sleep for a few hours and then seeing him dead in the park after a friend found him. Lee Chidgey broke down as he recounted how the sun shone through rain clouds after he saw his brother dead and touched his lifeless body. He said: “That was Matt saying, ‘I was waiting for you.’"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haines Canyon Debris Basin

If you'd like to see where a significant amount of that water rushing through Los Angeles flood channels comes from, then take a look at the following video made by Marsha Perloff. Tujunga resident Marsha (Echo Park tries to claim her, but that's another story) lives about a football field away from this basin. This basin did indeed overflow for awhile, but for the most part, the system is working.

Now, for comparison purposes, look at this same basin just days before the rains began. The Army Corp of Engineers had spent weeks dredging it out in preparation for the storms:

B-Word no longer 'that which shall not be spoken' *

bankruptcy bankruptcy bankruptcy

Suddenly it's okay to say The B Word at City Hall if recent reporting by D-Zahn is any indication. Let me say that again: BANK-RUPT-CY!

whew! That feels better ... in a perverted sort of way.

I was saying this when it wasn't popular, thinking out loud during my tenure on Mayor Sam that April 2010 might be the month the City is forced to file Chapter Nine. I know - noone cares. Yeah, but it's now January and we now have a public - if leaked - revelation that City tax revenues are well below the magic $100 million threshold that triggers more possible layoffs whether the unions like it or not.

If Tony and his Fifteen Fiefs do engage in the kind of layoffs threatened in that leaked memo (see below), City employees will be hit hard. But the hardest hit will be we citizens who won't have any City services remaining.

Forget the layoffs, Mayor V and chums. Go Chapter 9 and let a real professional who has a fiscal clue - unlike you - reorganize with proper financial planning that includes reasonable benefits for public employees, and keeps what's left of our City services working for us taxpayers.

You've effed it up too bad to repair. Only an idiot talks about selling off revenue-making services like golf courses and parking structures. For this, you shouldn't even still be in office, sir. Much less telling the LA Times how great your wonderful life is. Insensitive jerk.

Embrace the infamous B-Word. You too, Paul K. And Paul H.

Try not to cry or scream as you read the following two feel-good stories from D-Zahn and friends at the LA Times.

Aside - someone please tell Meg Whitman to STFU on KNX. Six-seven ads an hour and people will start campaigning against you just because. (....since KFWB changed programming, KNX is the only pure news game in town. )

More grim budget news for L.A.: Tax revenue falls short by $186 million

January 21, 2010 | 9:23

The bad financial news just keeps coming at Los Angeles City Hall, where the top budget analyst reported this morning that tax revenue has come in at $186 million below estimates for the current year The report from City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana comes one day after The Times reported that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council leaders want to deal with the budget crisis by eliminating at least 1,000 jobs.Sales tax revenue declined by 16% last summer, instead of the 6% drop expected by city budget officials, the report states. And overall tax revenue has declined by double digits for four quarters straight, Santana said in an e-mail to The Times
“The city hasn’t seen this since the Great Depression,” he wrote. With a new fiscal year – and another budget shortfall -- only five months away, the city’s elected leaders have been scrambling to come up with a new plan for closing this year’s gap. Villaraigosa and five council members circulated a letter calling on Santana to prepare for layoffs and come up with a plan to offer 364 workers retirement up to five years early.

The city has already agreed to give early retirement to 2,400 city employees, some of whom have already left. One labor leader has voiced opposition to more job cuts. The letter also called on Santana to speed up plans for leasing city parking structures, giving him a deadline of Sept. 30. And it broached the subject of privatizing the Los Angeles Zoo and municipal airports in Van Nuys and Ontario, asking him to look at the concept.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Letter reveals L.A.'s plans for more layoffs

A decline in revenues may mean that at least 1,000 jobs are eliminated, according to the letter, which is being circulated among city leaders.

By David Zahniser and Phil Willon
January 20, 2010 | 8:44 p.m.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and City Council leaders have begun laying the groundwork for the elimination of 1,000 more jobs by July 1 in an attempt to eradicate a budget shortfall that has now ballooned to nearly $200 million. Only one month after 2,400 city employees were offered early retirement to help patch a budget gap, the mayor and five council members are scheduled to instruct their budget analysts as early as today to prepare for layoffs and look at privatizing city-owned parking garages, golf courses and airports in Van Nuys and Ontario. "Revenues are significantly lower than original projections and we are prepared to make tough decisions, including layoffs and cuts in less-essential city services to our constituents," states a letter being circulated among city leaders. A draft copy was obtained by The Times. "We will consider the elimination, consolidation, or outsourcing of city assets and services, furloughs and layoffs where permissible, continued managed hiring with consideration of a hard hiring freeze and public-private partnerships that will generate revenue."

Three council members -- Bernard C. Parks, Jan Perry and Dennis Zine -- confirmed that they had signed the letter but declined to discuss its contents. Villaraigosa Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Szabo said late Wednesday that the letter was not ready for release. The proposals are a sharp reaction to word -- still unofficial -- that city tax revenues have continued a dramatic decline over the last three months. Villaraigosa and the council have already tried to close this year's budget gap by imposing furloughs, rolling back salaries and cutting some city services. Since then, the budget crisis has moved into even more treacherous territory, with officials openly worrying about their ability to pay normal operating expenses over the rest of the year. Without any cuts, the deficit is expected to grow to $1 billion by 2013-14, according to official projections. "The threat of bankruptcy is real," said Parks, who heads the council's Budget and Finance Committee. "How likely it is depends on how well we manage things over the next few months."

When the Coalition of L.A. City Unions agreed to an early retirement program months ago, its leaders secured a pledge of no layoffs and furloughs over the next two years. But that promise left the layoff door open if tax revenues dropped by $100 million in a single year. That threshold has now been crossed, council members said Wednesday. Coalition spokeswoman Barbara Maynard said city leaders should not demand another round of salary negotiations until they have tried alternatives that have already been offered by her group, which represents 22,000 city employees. Maynard said 3,000 city workers applied for early retirement but only 400 have yet left the payroll. "They are exacerbating their budget problem by not moving their people out quickly," said Maynard, adding: "The city bureaucracy has been very slow in implementing these savings."

The draft letter obtained by The Times calls on City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana to look at a number of ways to reduce salaries and retirement costs. It also urges him to prepare for "no less than 1,000" job cuts and to plan for offering early retirement to an additional 300 employees. The city's mechanism for imposing layoffs is slow and byzantine -- unless officials decide to target only those workers who have been recently hired and are at the bottom tier of the workforce. A seniority system allows older employees to bump younger one out of their jobs, a process -- known as cascading -- that can take months. To get through the next 5 1/2 months, Villaraigosa and council leaders will probably need to tap the city's emergency reserve to close such a large shortfall. Yet if they do, Wall Street could downgrade the city's already weakened credit rating, a move that would increase the cost of borrowing necessary to keep paying the city's bills. "Depleting the reserve fund is a huge problem," City Controller Wendy Greuel said.

(Looking forward to your new news blog in 2010, D!)

GGPNC candidates list is in

The official Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council candidates list has been published by the City Clerk's office, and what a surprise - the two nut cases are on the list.

This year, total whackjob Tomas O'Grady announced loudly that he has a running mate in fellow lightweight philanthropist Leslie Vankeuren. The two are running "as a team" in the same district. VanKeuren is an environmental consultant. She owns and runs Sustain LA, about which the web site says "Sustain LA, a consultancy providing plans of action for adopting sustainable practices, reducing waste and improving efficiency to Los Angeles area businesses... 

What is noteworthy with the candidates list are the names that are missing. It appears the nut jobs have succeeded in chasing out a lot of the familiar faces. That's bad news, because some of those individuals did a bunch of good, hard work for the community and for the park.

The demise of this neighborhood council seems to be well underway, then.  A number of others are already completely overrun with angry haters and power-seeking insiders. Can the entire neighborhood council system be far behind?

GGPNC board candidates

District A (Griffith Park)
Jeff Gardner
Laura Howe
Mio Vukovic
Frank W. Masi
Robert J. Menz

District B
Christina A. Khanjian
John F. Jon Jr.
David A. Ubersax
Ron Ostrow

District C
Alexander C. De Campo
Daniel S. Sandman
Andrea M. Iaderosa
Dominic Patten
Harpreet K. Malhi

District D
Sarah A. Latier Napier
John Q. Lee
Tomas P. Wilson
Leslie VanKeuren
Tomas O' Grady

District E
Jessica C Kornberg
James M. McEwen
Mark F. Mauceri
Charlie M. Mims

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Signs of life at Mayor Sam?

Not exactly the Mayor Sam blog proper, but the Mayor Sam Press Release Blog has action today with the following vital release:

Parks cheerleaders compete on Saturday
Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation

Contact: Alba Ibarra
January 20, 2010
(626) 968-9953

Hundreds of Los Angeles County Parks Cheerleaders to Compete at Annual Cheer-Off....


Advisory for all Los Angeles County beaches

For Immediate Release: 
January 20, 2010 

Rain Advisory: Advisory for all Los Angeles County beaches in effect until further notice 

LOS ANGELES – Because of current rainfall, the County Health Officer is cautioning residents who are planning to visit Los Angeles County beaches to be careful of swimming, surfing, and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers. Bacteria, debris, trash, and other public health hazards from city streets and mountain areas are likely to enter ocean waters though these outlets. 

“Fortunately, discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers only comprise a small portion of the beach, and therefore a large portion of the beach remains accessible,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Public Health Director and Health Officer. “We do advise swimmers and surfers to stay away from the storm drains, creeks and rivers as there is the possibility that bacteria or chemicals from debris and trash may contaminate the water near and around these areas, and some individuals may become ill.” 

Areas of the beach apart from discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers are exempted from this advisory. Due to the high volume of rainfall, this advisory will be in effect until further notice.

Recorded information on beach conditions is available 24 hours a day on the County's beach closure hotline: 1-800-525-5662. 

Information is also available online at our website:

Sunland: 'Below-Water Village'

As you have heard on the news, over 700 residents have been or are in the process of being evacuated from their homes in the Sunland-Tujunga community. There is potential for even more evacuations.

Check the STNC web site for live links to local Facebook and Twitter contacts as well as City, news media and weather resources.

The Sunland Park Evacuation Center is open for our neighbors and the Red Cross is there.

First Responders -- LAPD, LAFD and others are at North Valley City Hall. If you would like to volunteer snacks and coffee for our First Responders, please drop off at North Valley City Hall (NVCH) or call the STNC office at 818-951-7411 to arrange. STNC Board members and community leaders are on site at NVCH and out in the community assisting where we can.

First Responders  are being proactive and taking every  precaution.  If you are asked to evacuate, please do so.  This is a critical time for our community.

The Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council is standing by to help as needed.  We realize that this e-mail will not get out to everyone so please pass it along and keep in contact with your neighbors.

Nina Royal, Vice President - Outreach & Safety
Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council
818-618-1648 - cell

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Fire Department, in a Unified Command, have ordered evacuations for residences located within Phase 1 and Phase 2 in the foothill area of Southern Tujunga.

These are homes located within the communities of Alpine Village, Seven Hills, Blanchard Canyon Road, Tujunga, and Riverwood. The evacuations have been ordered to be completed by 9 AM Wednesday morning, January 20, 2010.


We are anticipating significant rainfall predicted for Wednesday afternoon, January 20, 2010. It is anticipated that this will be the most significant storm to hit this area in several years.

Police and Fire Personnel may not be able to assist you during this significant storm. You are hereby ordered to evacuate your residence at or before 9:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 20, 2010.

For information pertaining to the mandatory evacuation, you may contact the Police/Fire Command Post at (323) 441-1187 or (323) 441-1188.

The below-listed shelters are available to you.

Evacuation Center
Sunland Recreation Center
8651 Foothill Blvd, Sunland CA, 91040
Available at 8:00 a.m., January 20, 2010

Evacuated small animals will be held at the Northeast Animal Shelter located at 15321 Brand Blvd, Mission Hills, CA 91345, (818) 837-2609.

Evacuated large animals will be held at Pierce College located at 6201 Winnetka Avenue, Woodland Hills, CA, 91371, (818) 347-0551.
For information pertaining to the evacuation order and information about when residents might be allowed to return to their homes, please contact LAPD’s Media Relations Section at (213) 486-5910 or the LAFD’s Public Information Office at (213) 485-5162.

Election fraud in race to replace Kennedy

National, but pretty big as it affects the vote for health care reform:


Multiple Reports Of Ballots Pre-Marked For Scott Brown

BOSTON - Following multiple independent reports of ballots being given to voters pre-marked for Republican Scott Brown, Coakley Campaign Manager Kevin Conroy and Attorney Marc Elias will hold a press conference in the Sheraton Grand Ballroom at 5:30 pm.

GGPNC election applications due today

Just a reminder that today is the last day to turn in your applications to run for the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council board. The GGPNC boundaries include Los Feliz and Griffith Park. Applications are due tonight at the GGPNC's regular board meeting. Should be a fun and ever-so-lively meeting, too. 

The welfare of the crown jewel of the City's parks system is potentially at stake here. Please consider running to represent your community in this election. There are 19 board seats - 10 are elected and 9 are appointed by the elected board members. The 10 elected members come from 5 different districts and Griffith Park is in District A.

Do it for the park. Run for the GGPNC Board.

GGPNC Board Meeting - 7pm January 19, 2010
The Los Feliz Community Police Center (2nd floor of Citibank)
1965 N. Hillhurst Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Monday, January 18, 2010

Storm #1: Station Fire slurry on the move

As soon as the rain stopped I put on my hiking boots and headed out to see what was what. I shot this video in Little Tujunga Canyon today around 3:30pm. The Station Fire debris and rain slurry is on its way into Hansen Dam Recreation Area.

One-seventh of the City of Los Angeles's drinking water passes through Hansen Dam... and this stuff is going down the same channel and into the City's water system.

The sound is to be expected, but the smell was amazing - a mix of smoke, and wet and dirt and sage. Here Little T flows out from under the 210 bridge and cascades into the Hansen Dam basin.

This poor plant on the edge of the main Hansen Dam lake was just minutes from being swallowed up by the incoming torrent.

Laura & Morgan

Yesterday's big "Awwwh" moment, courtesy of Laura Chick's granddaughter, Morgan.

A Gracious Moment

Paul Krekorian did a brilliant and gracious thing at his inauguration on Sunday. After speeches from local and statewide political heavyweights ranging from Mayor Villaraigosa to Assembly Leader Karen Bass, Paul had 3 local community activists (John Walker, Judy Price, and Abby Diamond) speak immediately prior to his swearing in. It was a nod of thanks for the efforts of the many and a welcome indicator of the Councilmember's priorities. Here is the segment with Abby Diamond speaking. The introduction is by the event emcee, Christina Gonzalez of Fox 11 news (and an active CD2 resident). Video footage by yours truly.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Park Twitpic du jour

Twitpic Posted on January 15, 2010  by nellev

"Watching @ndcapture shoot ben in Griffith park... Creating nashville in LA."

More loonies in the Griffith Park NC hen-house

~Heads Up~ 
 Los Feliz locals and Griffith Park advocates:

Next Tuesday is the last day to apply to run for the governing board of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council.

If this is your neighborhood council, you really should be concerned. Board members represent you. They spend your money in your name. Their conduct represents your community.

In this particular case, this board and its elected members are the de facto stewards of Griffith Park, so this election concerns us at the Wayist a heck of a lot.

The next GGPNC Board Meeting is Tuesday January 19th at 7pm. You may want to attend and see just who is representing you and, perhaps more importantly, how they are representing you.

Griffith Park Wayist encourages all people of good conscience to run in this election. We also encourage you to vote for anyone running except a current board member named Tomas O'Grady. We covered the why in detail earlier this week (click here to review).

During the course of the discussion on O'Grady, Wayist commenters kept linking O'Grady to another current board member and candidate, someone named Mark F. Mauceri. In checking around, it looks like this citizen is another someone who the park would likely do better without.

Mauceri seems to be the local politics soul mate of O'Grady, and information to this blog is that the two men are typically connected at the hip during orchestrated hit and run attacks on specific GGPNC Board members and issues at meetings. The vitriol in some of their antics is illustrated by one situation where they themselves phoned the employer of another GGPNC Board member and made libelous accusations to the employer about the board member. If 100% confirmed, this stuff is really nasty behavior even for local politics and goes way outside the boundaries of common decency.

Curiouser still is that something purporting to be an objective forum with paid advertising - the Los Feliz Liar - may have signed on to the two men's personal agenda. In documented cases, LFL reporters show up just before one of these hit sessions begin and leave as soon as Mauceri, O'Grady and operatives are finished, curiously showing no interest in the rest of the agenda items at the meeting in question.

It just makes ya go WTF??!? Doesn't it? 

Currently Mauceri seems to be some kind of television consultant in terms of day job. Wondering what's up, we Google'd Mauceri and found some .... interesting  for want of a better word .... publicly-available biographical data.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Mark F. Mauceri 
IMDb Filmography
"Naked Happy Girls" (special thanks) (3 episodes, 2007)
    - Look Ma, No Clothes (2007) TV episode (special thanks)
    - 3's a Crowd (2007) TV episode (special thanks)
    - Give Me Your Naked (2007) TV episode (special thanks)


New Reality Dating Show FOURSOME Heads to Playboy TV
Playboy TV Presents the Next Generation of Dating Shows
Playboy TV ups the television ante on July 8 (9:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 p.m. PT) with the series premiere of FOURSOME, the most outrageous and uninhibited reality dating show ever conceived.
In each 30-minute episode, the devious minds at Playboy bring together four sexy singles to explore their wild sides. Two gorgeous girls and two hot guys are set up in an eye-popping Hollywood hilltop mansion and provided with lavish food, refreshments, toys and sexy scenarios as they live out the most unforgettable 24 hours of their lives and the sparks fly where they may. From demure women who suddenly find their inner divas to back-stabbing best friends, FOURSOME is always unexpected and always surprising. And since it′s produced by the leader in entertainment for adults, Playboy TV′s FOURSOME, unlike other dating shows, captures every passionate moment on tape. The viewer is along for the whole wild ride in the bedroom ... and the living room ... the kitchen ... the hot tub ... the limo ...
"FOURSOME ratchets up the dating show concept to Playboy′s level," stated Mark F. Mauceri, Playboy TV′s Vice President, Worldwide Programming. "It shows what can happen when Playboy acts as the matchmaker for the double date of a lifetime. It′s a highly entertaining, addictive, and a really guilty pleasure." 

Naked Happy Girls Coming to Playboy TV
Naked. Happy. Girls. What more do you need to know? On January 13 (9 p.m. ET / 10 p.m. PT), Playboy TV will premiere Naked Happy Girls, a 13-episode half-hour documentary series that follows erotic photojournalist Andrew Einhorn as he traverses New York City, meeting real-life women and convincing them to pose nude for him. Based on the popular hardcover coffee table book, Naked Happy Girls, the Playboy TV series offers viewers an authentic, un-glamorized, un-idealized look into the life of a working artist as he navigates the art world with its galleries and commercial demands while maintaining his creative output and managing his personal life. Interviews with his models reveal their varied reasons for agreeing to pose nude.
"Andrew has the kind of job most men would die for, except it's really not all babes all the time. Just 9-5," stated Mark F. Mauceri, Playboy TV's Vice President, Worldwide Programming. "In between, the reality of struggling in New York City, a demanding publisher, a judgmental mother, and girlfriends who can't get comfortable with his line of work turn an otherwise perfect life upside down."
Andrew Einhorn has developed a unique photographic style that is undeniably erotic and unabashedly fun. "I'm lucky that I can make women laugh," says Einhorn, "Laughter is happy and happy is sexy and sexy is nice. I like sexy pictures. I like happy sexy pictures. Most people do." Working with women he meets on the street, his Naked Happy Girls series is natural, playful and cheerful - capturing his subjects' inner beauty as much as their outer beauty. From Lower East Side Goth Girls to NYU Film Students to Upper East Side Debutantes, these are real women, with all their self-perceived "imperfections" celebrated. Employing his charm and sense of humor, Einhorn puts his models at ease, coaxing them to open up for the camera lens. 
Thursday, October 6th, 2005
The first episode of “Vivid Valley” premieres October 1st on Playboy TV. The 13-part weekly half-hour documentary series goes behind the doors of Vivid and the multibillion-dollar adult film industry. It was produced by World of Wonder’s award-winning producers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Party Monster, Inside Deep Throat). Playboy TV is promoting the series as “a fly-on-the-wall peek into the public passions and private lives of Vivid’s stars and their boss Steven Hirsch, the 42-year-old who created a hugely successful business using the tactics of the old Hollywood studio system – building a stable of bright young stars under exclusive contract.”  
Mark F. Mauceri, vice president of Playboy Worldwide Programming said, “’Vivid Valley’ is sure to entertain and fascinate the uninitiated with its intimate look at the company’s gritty inner workings.”
“Vivid Valley” follows the Vivid Girls through their professional and personal relationships on the set and at home, revealing their sometimes unexpected opinions on everything from plastic surgeries, drug abuse and recovery, child-rearing, romance and religion. “Vivid Valley” premiered Saturday, Oct. 1 (9:30pm ET / 10:30pm PT) and will air each Saturday for 13 episodes.