GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009

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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

LaBonge unveils latest plans for Griffith Park

By popular request, here's a summary of the projects planned by CD 4 for Griffith Park that were discussed by LaBonge on Wednesday afternoon at the Los Feliz library. Crowd size was approximately thirty stalwart locals. For the most part, the audience simply listened as Himself unveiled his latest financial follies we like to call LaBongenomics.

From notes scribbled on the back of a piece of kleenex - unused.

Current Projects

Save the Pood:

In the drive to purchase the RKO property on Cahuenga Peak, LaBonge says he, the Trust for Public Land, and the Department of Recreation and Parks have approximately $8 million in hand and need another $4.5 million. The councilman thinks he'll make the deadline in April, but he couldn't remember why there was a deadline. (The TPL's option to purchase the property for the fixed price expires in mid-April.)

Seems like an awful lot of groups and some individuals in Los Angeles could just write a check for the rest of the money without flinching. People with normal incomes like you and I can donate here. Every little bit helps.

Red-Headed Stepchild no more:

Captain's Roost is going to get some help. Finally. Years after it should have already happened. Prop 84 will restore native plan population and remove non-natives, and the California Conservation Corps has bodies to do some work. A volunteer carpenter named "Julianne" reportedly spends time up at the Roost now, doing something carpentrylike.

LaBonge trotted out a three year old map showing plans for restoration of the original Griffith Park Iconic Garden (circa 1945), done a few months after the fire in May 2007 as part of the Griffith Park Recovery Plan.

Sorry, Tom-fans: Dantes' View is second Iconic Garden built in Griffith Park, not the first. For completeness, Amir's Garden is the third and last.

The councilman also said something about not restoring a recent, popular but unauthorized addition to the Roost by Sierra Club'er Felix Martinez and his brother. Back in 2007, LaBonge insisted on including the Martinez Brothers' addition in the restoration plan.

Invoking our crystal ball now, we smell some sort of financial offering from NBC Universal likely for both Captain's Roost and possibly Cahuenga Peak in exchange for CD 4's support on their mega-expansion, The NBC Universal Vision Plan. Guessing this is the real reason behind CD 4's vocal opposition -Universal isn't playing ball yet. Or should that be "paying" ball?

Jogging Path for Seniors:

LaBonge has some money, so he's gonna build that jogging path for the seniors even if they have to cross one of the busiest intersections in all of Los Angeles to get there. Even if there's more room on the other side of the street - where the senior citizen's center is actually located - for a bigger, better path. He's throwing in some native plants to appease greenies, too.

Whipping that crystal ball out again, we're thinking Avon's Walk for Breast Cancer is probably the real target user group. The Mulholland Fountain makes for mighty nice high profile photo ops.

Future Projects

Travel Town Western Pavilion expansion:

Being built so non-members can use the bathroom at Travel Town too. No real information given out except controversial architect Brenda Levin's name was dropped. Wondering if the Pavilion is going to look like her other more high-profile boondoggle, the Autry expansion.

Historic Griffith Park Pool:

A renovation, we assume.

Toyon Canyon:

We've warned about this before. Tom wants active use recreation on this land, and he's gonna find a way to do it. He wouldn't say anything specific about his plans, probably because he's up for re-election in a year, but he did say he was willing to investigate restoring a natural stream that was buried when the City decided to create a landfill in the middle of Griffith Park in the 1950s. This, of course, was a crowd-pleaser he's hoping to parlay into a vote-getter.

As far as Toyon is concerned, there is already a final approved closure plan for the landfill in place that includes restoring the canyon-now-mountain of garbage into natural habitat. Labonge had previously put plans for a funicular from Mineral Wells to the top of Toyon where new ball fields were to be built in the much-hated Melendrez version of the Griffith Park Master plan. Those have since been exorcised, but the ball field spectre will likely rise again if the councilman succeeds in winning a third term.

After all, he freely admits he's quite the athletic supporter.

Move over barbecues:

Park Center (Crystal Springs) is getting new Little League ball fields whether they fit there or not. This is punishment for fighting the ball fields and funicular on Toyon, by the way. Himself said as much at the December meeting. Price tag is  $3.5 million in Prop K funding, time frame - 2012.

Commonwealth nursery:

Kicking out the MacArthur Park work crew and installing youth groups. He's doing it for the children.

Cost? Impact?

Sunnynook River Park:

Sounds like one of the many "ribbon parks" planned for river bike paths with Prop O money, but quite honestly LaBonge said nothing concrete about this except to say it is happening.


Best quote from LaBonge: "I'm an athletic suporter."

Second best quote from LaBonge: "A lot of what I do is what I dreamed about but didn't get as a kid."

Obligatory LaBonge comparison of Griffith Park to Central Park came when the councilman suggested that a "Central Park Foundation" take over Griffith Park just like Central Park.

Promise made by LaBonge: the councilman agreed to set up a meeting with the much maligned Griffith Park Master Plan working group, his office, and the Department of Recreation and Parks to discuss the next step in the master plan process.

Important parks Council committee meeting today

While we're recovering from yesterday's special community meeting on Tom LaBonge plans for Griffith Park, parks advocates are reminded that today's Arts Parks Health and Aging committee meeting is all about the dramatic cuts being made to the Department of Recreation and Parks. And Dept of Aging.

It's all about the cuts.

ROOM 1010, CITY HALL - 2:00 PM

Agenda item (1) ------- Discussion of the Department of Recreation and Parks' current budget, Department’s submittal for 2010-11 Budget, impact of the Early Retirement Incentive Program, possible restructuring of Department operations, and other related matters.

Agenda item (2) ------- Discussion of the Los Angeles Department of Aging's current budget, Department’s submittal for 2010-11 Budget, impact of the Early Retirement Incentive Program, possible restructuring of Department operations, and other related matters.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Solving the budget crisis: free labor!

Looks like the State of Louisiana has it right - more chain gangs. And a cockatoo. Also.
Woman Sells Children For $175 And A Cockatoo
Associated Press   9:56 AM PST, February 24, 2010
Donna Greenwell
Donna Greenwell 
NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana woman has pleaded guilty to selling two children for a cockatoo and $175 in what her attorney called an attempt to do a good thing that went wrong. "It was a really clumsy attempt at an adoption proceeding," said Steve Sikich, attorney for Donna Louise Greenwell of Pitkin. "She was trying to help the children and get them situated."

Greenwell, 53, was sentenced Monday to 15 months of hard labor on each of two criminal counts: sale of a minor. The sentences are to run concurrently.

The case centered on a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl in Greenwell's custody. Investigators said she called Paul J. Romero, 46, and Brandy Lynn Romero, 27, of Evangeline Parish early last year after seeing a flyer they posted offering a cockatoo for sale, and offered to deliver the children for about $2,000. When the Romeros said they could not afford that, a deal was stuck for the bird, valued at $1,500, plus cash. Greenwell had custody of the children for more than a year before meeting the Romeros, Sikich said. Her lawyers have maintained she was just trying to find a better home for them. "They were undernourished and not well taken care of," Sikich said. "It's my understanding that the mother had requested that she take care of the kids." Another lawyer for Greenwell had said previously that the children were "abandoned to her care." Neither the children's mother or father could be located, Sikich said.

The $175 was to cover the cost of an attorney to transfer custody of the children to the Romeros, Sikich said. The cockatoo was a gift to Greenwell's granddaughter, he said. Greenwell's sentences were part of a plea deal worked out with the Evangeline Parish District Attorney's office. Sikich said Greenwell could have faced up to 10 years on each count and another 20 years as a habitual offender. The district attorney agreed not to file charges against Greenwell as a habitual offender as part of the plea bargain, Sikich said. "She did not have a good attorney for two previous counts, which left her with a record she didn't really deserve," he said. He said the charges were for issuing worthless checks and second-degree battery. The Romeros, of Eunice, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sale of a minor child, the district attorney said in an earlier statement. Their five-year prison sentences were suspended in exchange for their testimony against Greenwell, the statement said. The district attorney's office did not return repeated calls Tuesday for comment. Greenwell will begin serving her sentence on March 25.

Park pic of the day

Pic by Zaydan

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cardenas speaks his mind, makes sausage

Today in City Council, Tony Cardenas made a point of thanking the CAO, the head of the Personnel Department, and the General Manager of Rec and Parks for being honest when speaking to the City Council.

Cardenas expressed how important it is for these experts to give their professional, experienced opinions on the situation, and how important the truth - no matter how painful - is when important decisions are being made.

Tony Cardenas is a guy who speaks his mind, even when he's comparing making those important decisions to cooking and eating sausage: people enjoy the product, but probably wouldn't consume it if they knew what went into it.

Luckily for Tony, he can't be fired by the Mayor for telling the truth.

Unfortunately, the same is not true for the CAO and City general managers and department heads.  The City Charter reform of 2000 restores to the Mayor the power to hire and fire these integral City employees, something that had been removed from previous charters after this City's long history of corrupt department heads being hand-picked by a corrupt mayor. I'm told this was epitomized by a whole lot of ugly funny business in the 1920s. Hopefully someone better with Los Angeles history will expound on this. (Um, MT??)

Anyway, about Cardenas's speech today, Griffith Park Wayist says GO Tony!

GO truth!

GO sausage!

Monday, February 22, 2010

LaBonge holds court on Griffith Park "issues" Wednesday

Griffith Park "issues" as Tom LaBonge sees them, that is. Not the real issues facing our parks like theft of funding and elimination of most of the employees who do the work.

No, not those issues. LaBonge's issues are a jogging path around Mulholland fountain, taking over Captain's Roost, and grabbing more than $3 million of Prop-K funds for new ball fields in the most congested part of Griffith Park. Yay.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Park pic of the day

Twitpic by cincodemaygirl

Mayor's office to hear NC concerns

Looks like the Mayor's office can no longer ignore the city's neighborhood councils, mean while we're wondering which one of the 19 different deputy mayors this one is.

Press release from Mr. Box at BudgetLA:
The BudgetLA Journey Continues!

This Friday, February 19th at 3pm, the BudgetLA community meets with Deputy Mayor Larry Frank for a presentation on the reorganization of the Neighborhood Council System.

This meeting is the culmination of the tremendous work done by the hundreds of people who have participated in the BudgetLA journey, representing 75 of the 90 certified neighborhood councils.

There is a lot of ground to cover, from NC elections and NC funding to the core priorities of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we put all of our energy into being part of the solution as we take on the city's budget crisis and as we work together to position neighborhood councils as an asset in the journey to make Los Angeles a Great City.

Deputy Mayor Larry Frank hosts BudgetLA 

Friday, February 19, 2010
3:00 pm
Mayor's Press Room
3rd Floor
200 Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Ride your bike and park out front next to mine, take the Metro and get some exercise, or grab some friends and carpool. (email to arrange parking)

The future of the Neighborhood Council System depends on your participation NOW and it is your hard work that will shape the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and establish the foundation for all that unfolds as we move forward.

Ken Draper of CityWatch will provide an overview of the BudgetLA Journey and Shawn Simons of Empowerment Congress North will present the collaborative plan for the Neighborhood Council System.

I hope you'll join us.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Human remains found in Griffith Park

View Skull found in Griffith Park in a larger map

A human skull was found yesterday afternoon in Griffith Park near the Zoo veterinary building. It was reported just before 6pm. Authorities sealed off the area and LAPD stayed on scene all night. A full investigation is now underway.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Welcome to Sallywood

Twitpic by angiecole

Mayor keeps kicking 'em while they're down

By "'em" we mean "us" - the recipients of constituent services. Oh yeah, the unions too.

From the LA Times today.

Villaraigosa plans new round of L.A. City Hall job cuts, says services will be fewer

February 11, 2010

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he is planning a second major wave of City Hall job cuts, moving to eliminate between 1,200 and 2,000 positions to get the struggling city through the remainder of the calendar year.

Appearing at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Villaraigosa said the reductions would be sought for the fiscal year that starts July 1 — and come on top of the 1,000 jobs that he targeted last week for elimination. Villaraigosa said the cuts would lead, at a minimum, to reduced library hours and parks and recreation programs. And he dismissed suggestions that he lacks the legal authority to slash the size of the city’s payroll. “I can order layoffs, and I am,” he told the audience.

The mayor and City Council have been struggling to find ways to eliminate a $212-million shortfall this year and a $484-million gap in the fiscal year that starts in five months. Councilman Richard Alarcon responded to the announcement by warning that such reductions would lead to a “dramatic” loss of city services. He also signaled that such a large cut to the civilian payroll would prompt calls to halt hiring of officers at the Police Department — an idea that Villaraigosa has so far refused to embrace. “I don’t think you can have that discussion without talking about equitable cuts in the Police Department,” Alarcon said.

Villaraigosa announced last week that he would seek to scale back the workforce by 1,000 positions, either through layoffs or by transferring workers to vacant positions not affected by the budget crisis. In his remarks Thursday afternoon, Villaraigosa said he expected that at least one-fourth of those positions would be eliminated through layoffs.

Leaders of the city’s employee unions voiced their own dismay about the mayor’s announcement, saying he had proposed a number with “little to no analysis.” “Each and every cut represents a loss of services,” said Victor Gordo, an attorney and a leader of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents 22,000 workers. “The council is engaged in a balanced and thoughtful approach to this fiscal crisis. We would urge [the mayor’s office] to do the same.”

-- David Zahniser and Phil Willon at City Hall

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guest editorial: Looking for that elusive pot of gold

"True Grit" sent us their personal musings on the current budget situation. True Grit could be just about anyone, but we're gonna publish this anyway because:

1. their photo is fantastic! (click it to enlarge)

2. we completely agree with True Grit's description of the Mayor's performance at City Hall yesterday. It was a terrible performance,  full of embarrassing pauses like someone was feeding him tag lines through an earpiece. When he did speak, it was in sound bytes from his speech last week about layoffs.

3. there is a hit list element to the layoff choices. Our gut feeling is that most of it appears to be punitive in nature, aimed at a General Manager or three for non-compliance. 

As for the rest of the content, we'll let y'all argue with "Mr. or Ms. Grit" as to whether they've hit the mark.


Looking for that elusive pot of gold

While the Mayor and Clowncil were busy thanking each other for "working together" and making "hard decisions" about nothing, they missed the one opportunity to get the city out of the financial mess they created - they all should have jumped into their city cars and headed a few blocks north of City Hall to end of this magnificent double rainbow that miraculously appeared in the late afternoon somewhere in between Philippe's and Home Boy Industries. There, they could have found the pot of gold that would have solved the impending bankruptcy that Villaraigosa will do anything to avoid, lest it blemish his legacy.

Of course, even if the Mayor and the 15 Clowncilmembers had found the pot of gold, they would have wasted it on boondoggles.

The irony of today's Clowncil session that saw the Mayor stammer and stumble over his prepared speech of catchphrases and irrelevant platitudes, was that the people who caused this mess have the audacity to believe that they now have the answer.

The Clowncil all asked questions of the Mayor of Failure, each thinking they had something magical to suggest in the form of finding anything, anything at all that would prevent the City from having to fire one employee, let alone 1,000. The one question that nobody asked was "What will the effect of firing 1,000 employees be on the $212M deficit?" According to CAO Miguel Santana's 1,000 person hit list, it will save the City $22.7M in 2009-2010. In 2010-2011, it will save the City $66.4M. In other words, it won't make a significant difference, it might just stave off bankruptcy so the Mayor can claim he's steered the City through difficult times, and thereby rely on the public's general ignorance of reality and somehow allow Villaraigosa to move on to some other political office.

Does anyone else see just how phony baloney the Mayor's 1,000 hit list is? 4 years ago, the City employed 26,000 people, today it employs 30,000. The City's revenue has now fallen to the level it was 4 years ago. So if we're to balance the budget, the City needs to cut 4,000, not 1,000. But the Mayor cannot hide 4,000 jobs in the DWP, Airport and the Port. He can hide 360, and rely on early retirements to take care of the other 640. That's where the magical number of 1,000 comes from, and it's just as illusory as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sunset in Sunland

A sudden break in the clouds right at sunset.

[release] View of Hollywood Sign to Be Protected

Here's the TPL press release on the RKO property:

View of Hollywood Sign to Be Protected

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9 (AScribe Newswire) -- The view of the world-famous Hollywood Sign will be protected by purchasing Cahuenga Peak, the 138 acres behind and to the left of the sign which could have been developed into luxury homes, The Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today.

"With the support of donors such as The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, TPL and its partners are in a campaign to raise a total of $12.5 million by April 14," said Sam Hodder, California State Director for TPL. After the purchase, which will cost $11.7 million, the land will be added to Griffith Park, the nation's 4th-most-visited park.  "The Hollywood Sign is one of America's iconic views and that view would be ruined forever if estates are built behind it," said Hodder, as he and TPL's partners announced a two-month campaign to raise the remaining $6.2 million needed to complete the purchase from a group of Chicago investors.
TPL's exclusive option to buy Cahuenga Peak expires April 14. If the funds aren't raised to protect it, the property will go back for sale on the open market (For details, visit .) Some of Hollywood's biggest stars have also agreed to lend their support to the campaign including Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("New Adventures of Old Christine"), Academy Award Nominated Actress Virginia Madsen, Tippi Hedren, John Slattery ("Mad Men"), Aisha Tyler (FOX's "24"), Julian McMahon (FX's "Nip/Tuck"), James Kyson Lee ("Heroes"), Beau Garrett ("Fantastic Four") and Katherine Morris (CBS's "Cold Case"). "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a spectacular property in the middle of one of our biggest cities. Opportunities like this simply do not come along very often," Hodder said.

The land was purchased by industrialist Howard Hughes in 1940 to build a home for movie star Ginger Rogers, his intended bride. When that relationship ended, Hughes kept the land, and in 2002, his estate sold it to the investors who now own it. Two years ago, they put it on the market for $22 million, but it hasn't sold. It is zoned for four homesites. "Two things - the larger-than-life name HOLLYWOOD against the pristine rugged mountain make this world-famous landmark a symbol of ingenuity and hope to millions of people. Every day, I see tourists posing for snapshots in Beachwood Canyon just below the sign," said Los Angeles City Council member Tom LaBonge, chair of the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee, whose district includes Cahuenga Peak. "The City of Los Angeles wants to acquire this land, not only to maintain the view of the Hollywood Sign, but also to preserve open space, hiking trails and wildlife corridors for the future health of our great city."

"The Tiffany & Co. Foundation works to protect historically, environmentally and culturally significant sites throughout the United States," said Michael Kowalski, chairman and CEO, Tiffany & Co. "As one of Los Angeles's most treasured and historic green spaces, the Hollywood Sign and the surrounding park area is clearly deserving of the Foundation's support. Like Tiffany & Co., the Hollywood Sign is an icon of American glamour and ingenuity that not only inspires, but also brings joy to visitors from around the world. On behalf of The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, we are honored to play a leadership role in preserving this important piece of Los Angeles's rich heritage."

Jon Kirk Mukri, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, said, "Griffith Park is an urban oasis with recreational opportunities that make the park such a glorious part of Los Angeles. There are many things to do, see, enjoy, and appreciate in this expansive area, with more than 4,200 acres. The Hollywood Sign, perhaps the most recognizable nine letters to grace a hillside in the world, is part of Griffith Park and it is important that the view of the sign as well as the spectacular views and trails of Cahuenga Peak be preserved."  Joseph T. Edmiston, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, said, "Cahuenga Peak, while surrounded by urbanization and freeways, supports a remarkably intact ecosystem of native chaparral plants and animals seemingly unaffected by ecological isolation. The property provides an unparallel natural experience in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains."  Chris Baumgart, Chairman of the Hollywood Sign Trust, said, "The Hollywood Sign Trust applauds the efforts of Councilman Tom LaBonge and The Trust for Public Land for their initiative to purchase the 138 acres of land known as Cahuenga Peak, and secure it for the City of LA as permanent open space. Since 1923, this adjoining land has been an integral part of the world-famous view of the international icon of the entertainment industry."
Besides TPL and LaBonge, the partnership includes the Hollywood Sign Trust, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, the Los Angeles Parks Foundation and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Hollywood Sign to become a cry for help (temporarily)

Update 7:01am:

KTTV is reporting that the Trust for Public Land now has an option to purchase the RKO property! If true, it doesn't make a lot of sense that they would change the Hollywood Sign to read "FOR SALE", but that was the information we received yesterday.

We hope that TPL does have the option and that the extortion price of $22 mill the mob from Chicago was trying to get from Los Angeles is nowhere near the price the TPL has optioned.

This Thursday the Hollywood Sign will temporarily disappear, but don't panic. So says Tom LaBonge's office, anyway.

The Trust For Public Land is hijacking the historic sign temporarily to call attention to the fact that the RKO property on Cahuenga Peak is still in serious danger of becoming a housing development.

Word on the street is that the iconic sign will reappear as a FOR SALE sign of some kind a short time later. The TPL will be doing a series of press events in conjunction with the unveiling.

Seems to us at GPW that a FOR SALE sign pretty much signifies what's happening with the entire City of Los Angeles.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Evacuations Ordered for Foothill Communities

The Foothills Incident Unified Command has ordered mandatory evacuations tomorrow, Tuesday, February 9, due to the risk of debris flows in the Station Fire burn area.

Evacuations have been ordered for areas of La Crescenta, La Canada Flintridge, and Acton. Affected residents are being notified through Alert LA County and by door-to-door notification by LA County Sheriff’s deputies. A full address list of affected homes is available on the Coordinated Agency Recovery Effort (CARE) website at

Evacuations must be completed by 10 a.m. Affected residents and residents of flood-prone areas are urged not to leave vehicles or trash bins in the street.

The evacuations have been ordered as a safety precaution following predictions of rainfall Tuesday and Wednesday. Residents are strongly urged to comply with the evacuation orders.

American Red Cross has established evacuation shelters for La Canada and La Cresenta at:

Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2411 Montrose Avenue, Montrose, CA 91020 and in Acton at Acton Community Center, 3748 Nichols St., Acton, CA 93510.

Recreation in LA City forfeit to "the Mayor's legacy"

Come Tuesday, the Department of Recreation and Parks may need to change its name.

While the Mayor has been meeting privately with Pete Wilson and Gray Davis on how to protect his personal legacy, the Los Angeles City Council votes Tuesday on a number of budget cuts proffered by the Mayor's Legacy Proxy (the CAO).

One of those recommendations (Agenda item 11, parts 16 and 17) actually states explicitly that it will result in the serious reduction or removal of the entire recreation function from the Department of Recreation and Parks. This year just recreation will be obliterated, in the next few years it will be the entire department.

Although the City Charter guarantees that the Department of Recreation and Parks receives at set percentage of local property taxes, it apparently has no guarantee that the Mayor and City Council cannot steal those funds after the fact. And steal they will on Tuesday.

Congratulations Antonio:

Your legacy is the destruction of affordable, easily accessible, healthy recreation for at-risk and low income youth all across Los Angeles.

Long may you be remembered for this.

Meet the Chief times two tonight

Meet LAPD chief Charlie Beck and LAFD chief Millage Peaks tonight at a community forum hosted by the Los Feliz Improvement Association.

The forum takes place at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage starting at 7pm.

WHAT:   A Neighborhood Forum on Crime & Safety
WHEN:   Monday, February 8 @ 7pm (come early for refreshments)
WHERE: The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Way, L.A. 90027

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Park pic of the day

Yellow Currant in bloom at Hansen Dam Recreation Area. (2-6-10)

10 homes destroyed by mudslides

Sadly, the press is loving this.

From CBS 2/KCAL 9


Foothill Burn areas were hammered by heavy rain overnight and at least ten houses in La Canada Flintridge were destroyed by a deluge of debris.

Mud carried away cement K-rail barricades on Ocean View Boulevard, and tossed cars into storm drains.

"Everywhere we look, we see destruction, just home after home," said CBS2 reporter-pilot Larry Welk. "Heavy K-rails are just tossed around."

A hillside gave away on Manistee Drive, a cul-de-sac off Ocean View Boulevard, sending mud into a home.

"It was about 5 a.m. and it was really loud, so I decided to get up," said Jennifer Dickens, who lives near the damaged house. "I saw this wave coming. It was like a waterfall hitting the house."

No injuries were reported, but the mud blasted through barrier walls and flooded the home.

Dickens said another neighbor's car got swept away overnight.

La Canada Flintridge resident Tony Nefas said mud came over the top of a three-foot retaining wall and flowed into his house on Ocean View Boulevard.

"We had a lot of time to prepare for this, but this was bigger than anything we have ever seen," Nefas said.

Sheriff's deputies evacuated several homes off of Fairhurst Drive near Rock Castle Drive. Mudslides also were reported overnight on Blanchard Canyon Road in the Tujunga area, and a Los Angeles Fire Department engine reportedly got stuck in mud near Big Tujunga Canyon Road and Oro Vista Avenue.

A city fire spokesman said Nichols Canyon Road in the Hollywood Hills was closed due to debris flow.

Griffith Park closed due to rain, mud

Due to the rain and mud hazard, Griffith Park is closed until further notice. Park Rangers secured the park at approximately 7:15 this morning for safety reasons, but should reopen by the end of the day.

As of 7:30 this morning, more than three inches of rain had fallen in the park.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Giant soccer mom terrorizes Los Angeles

In this photo from today's LA Times, a hapless man attempts to fends off an Amazon of unknown origins with his umbrella.

Touchdown Ham

Greetings on a rainy Friday!

For information on any of the items below - or to see photos from an event this week - please visit

-The City Council devoted most of this week to budget hearings. If you want to tell Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa how you think the city should balance it's budget, please participate in the survey at:

There are two important city meetings coming up that deal with budgets and fees:

-- The City Council's Budget and Finance Committee will begin its 2010-2011 Budget on the Road Series. These meetings provide the community an opportunity to actively participate in the city's annual budget process. The city's current fiscal realities require nothing less than intense and collective engagement by residents and city leaders to protect core services. See the attached flier for more details. 

-- The City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) will hold six public hearings to air public responses to proposed changes and reductions to LADOT Transit Services as well as proposed fee increases. These changes are being recommended to address the significant transit budget shortfall of $350 million that is projected over the next decade. See the attached flier for more details. 

- The Los Feliz Improvement Association is hosting new LAPD Chief Charlie Beck at a neighborhood forum on public safety on Monday, February 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the Autry National Center in Griffith Park. Visit for more details.

- If you live in the Hollywood area, you're invited to the Los Angeles Police Department's Hollywood Area Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm. at Temple Israel of Hollywood, 7300 Hollywood Blvd. (Between Fuller Ave and Martel Ave.) Parking will be available at the location, enter off of Martel Ave. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss upcoming events in the Hollywood Area, including the US Census, the Academy Awards and the LA Marathon. Captain Beatrice Girmala and Senior Lead Officers will provide crime statistics and discuss prevention. If you have any questions about the meeting, please contact the Community Relations Office at (213) 485-4316.

- To inspire the revitalization of the Los Angeles River, Councilmembers LaBonge and Reyes joined the Friends of the Los Angeles River yesterday in honoring the team who restored the Cheonggyecheon Stream which flows through Seoul, Korea. The group held a ceremonial co-mingling of the waters of the two rivers. - Remember to fill out the easy-to-understand census form, which will be mailed in mid-March: 

Have a great Super Bowl weekend and continue to enjoy and love Los Angeles!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Mayor to move layoffs forward

The Mayor is expected to announce that he is overriding a decision by the City Council yesterday to delay layoffs for 30 days and push them forward to early next week.

The Mayor's press conference starts at 3:45pm

Additional @4:45pm

Union coalition members point out that if the Mayor lays off their employees before July 1 2010, this will break an agreement for delayed pay raises and the City will be paying a 3% raise retroactive to July 2009 to these employees. The price?  $50-55 million.

So will the 1,000 layoffs be coming from non-coalition employees?

Additional 2-5-10:
Mayor's Budget Letter Feb4 2010

Additional @4pm:

This is from the Mayor's so-called Blog

Tough Choices to Secure Our Economic Future
...With the authority invested in me by the City Charter and the people of Los Angeles, I’m taking immediate action toward balancing this fiscal year’s budget, strengthening the city’s credit rating and restoring the city’s long-term fiscal health.

Today, I am directing the elimination of 1,000 filled, full-time position authorities and instructing the Personnel Department to immediately begin calculating layoff, displacement seniority and/or transfers of employees filling these targeted positions.

I am also instructing the Personnel Department to place general funded employees into special funded positions and proprietary departments effective February 16, 2010.

These transfers will generate savings to the city’s general fund while permitting up to 360 employees to avoid layoffs. Employees interested in volunteering for transfer to Special Funded or Proprietary departments will have until 5:00 PM on Monday, February 8 to inform their respective department heads.

I will work with the Personnel Department and our general managers to effectuate these transfers from the list of volunteers. But I will reserve my right as Mayor to transfer any employee at any time as needed to protect the City’s General and Reserve Funds.

I'm also calling on the Council to adopt an ordinance to allow City employees to retire without the usual 30 to 60 day advance application requirement. Waiving this requirement will expedite retirements and provide needed relief to the General Fund.

It will also allow those employees who are facing layoffs and who are retirement eligible to leave the City in the most humane way possible.

Finally, I am asking the City Council to move their uncommitted funds, totaling up to $40 million, into the Reserve Fund until such time that the City Reserve Fund reaches 5% of the overall budget....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stop the insanity

Let's get real.

An $185 million budget deficit is equivalent to:
  • 1500 layoffs
  • selling off of parking
  • hysteria in council chambers
  • hysteria throughout the City's constituent-based departments
  • CAO-cum-Mayor's-Personal-Tool stealing back what he is forced to allow departments to have by City charter

Next year?

Number on the street is close to a $300 million deficit as the best case scenario,  That's what...
  • another 4300 employees laid off? 
  • the sell-off of all City assets? 
  • the breakdown of all internal competency as the E-RIP brain drain hits the City service-public interface? 
  • 10 departments completely eliminated? 15?
  • a breakdown of basic human rights and services?

No way.  We're not playing anymore. No more hysteria. No more lies. No more prayers.

It's time for financial reorganization.... yes - the B-Word.

Get a grip.

Stop fooling yourselves.

Pull your heads out.


Embrace Chapter 9.

Hire the firm.

Restore order.

Move forward toward the light on the other end of the financial reorganization tunnel in an orderly manner.

Thank you.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Wink and a Nudge

Pulling one over on the man, courtesy of the "suffering patients" that don't want to be hated, just cause they're medicated. Personally, I say just legalize it so we don't have to play these games, but in the meantime, perhaps you can appreciate why so many citizens in LA dislike being played for fools.

Budgie crisis at East Valley animal shelter

There's a bit of a feathered emergency at the City's East Valley shelter. Someone abandoned 82 parakeets at the shelter this weekend and the shelter is ill-equipped to handle the birds. They need to be adopted out right away.

Parakeets, also called Budgies, are some of the coolest pets you can have. Originally from Australia where they still roam wild in large flocks, budgies as pets are colorful, cheerful, and relatively easy to care for and keep healthy. Feed them daily, give them fresh water, change the paper in their cage regularly, and keep them out of drafts, and that's about it for care. Some do learn to talk, although they're not the first pet bird you'd think of if you want one that talks. I've always had parakeets as pets and it is like having cheerful, chirping colored popcorn in your house.

If you have room in your home, have no house cats*, and can commit to the short daily care of these cute feathered pets need, then head on down to the East Valley shelter and pick one or two out. Pick two, they're happier in pairs or larger groups. Color wise, the birds at the shelter are mostly blue and green, but there are a number of different varieties on the basic color theme. In reality, traditional greens and blues are healthier than color-crosses, anyway, being that the normal green is their color in the wild. Adoption fees are $11 each - a better price than your average pet store. You will need a budgie-appropriate cage, food and water dishes, and healthy parakeet food (no wild bird seed).  Cost to keep my birds is less than $50 per year in feed and vitamins.

The East Valley Animal Shelter is located at 14409 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys 818-756-9323

You can find more information on keeping parakeets as pets here.

*Please don't start sending in the "I've had cats and birds together forever" messages. Some people successfully do this, but far too many end up with 'OMG! I only left the door open for a second, and... !' stories. The bird is ALWAYS the loser....  Just respect how Mother Nature made birds and cats and don't do it.
Neighborhood Council Representatives
Deliver Statement to City Hall

"Honor the City Charter!"

LOS ANGELES – Neighborhood Council representatives from throughout the city are headed to City Hall to call on the Mayor and the City Council to honor the City Charter which established the neighborhood council system and which mandates appropriate funding. They take with them a BudgetLA Statement that says "At this time of financial crisis for the City, the solutions require a partnership between the elected officials at City Hall and the elected representatives of our 90 neighborhood councils." 

Neighborhood Councils exist to advise the Mayor and the City Council on City Budget priorities, to monitor the delivery of services, and to involve the community in the governance of the City of Los Angeles. The Charter goes so far as to call for periodic meetings with responsible officials of City departments.

As the CAO's "City Restructuring Proposals" are considered by the Budget and Finance Committee on Monday afternoon, Neighborhood Council leaders will stand in defense of the neighborhood council system and will position the NC system as a Funding Solution, a Communication Solution, and as a Community Building Solution. Ultimately, the NC system is an ASSET, not a LIABILITY, and it is protected by the City Charter. To that end, neighborhood councils stand as partners with the Mayor, the City Council, and the City Staff in working together for "An LA that Works!"

BudgetLA has hosted two emergency workshops which have drawn 110 different members from 47 different neighborhood councils, all focused on working together to take on bankruptcy, pensions, the delivery of city services and the reorganization of the city system. The BudgetLA position starts with two basic premises, that "everything is on the table and must be considered as we work together to solve the budget crisis, and that neighborhood councils must be at that table as partners in the process.

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.

This past Saturday, BudgetLA opened with Alex Rubalcava who addressed LA's future on "The Road to Bankruptcy." It also featured Department of Neighborhood Empowerment's GM, BongHwan Kim and his "Vision for Neighborhood Councils" presentation. Visit CityWatchLA for a details on Saturday's BudgetLA workshop. BudgetLA will meet again on Saturday, February 13 and on Saturday, February 27 at Hollywood City Hall. Both BudgetLA sessions will start at 10:00 am.

Press Conference
Monday, February 1, 2010
12:30 pm
City Hall Rotunda
200 Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Budget & Finance Committee
Monday, February 1, 2010
1:00 pm
City Council Chambers
200 Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012