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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

'Structurally deficient' bridges surround Griffith Park

Transportation for America, a group desperately trying to get someone - anyone - to pay attention to the sorry state of our nation's infrastructure, has just released a detailed report on structurally deficient bridges on major highways and streets throughout the the country.

Well, they certainly got our attention for what it's worth.

There are sixty bridges - yes, 6-0 give or take a couple - within a 10 mile radius of Griffith Park  that fall into the structurally deficient category. Immediately surrounding the park there are 9 in the same category.  The worst appears to be the iconic Hyperion Bridge, with a deck rating of 4 and super and sub-structure ratings of 6 on a scale of 1-10.

You can examine a detailed map with bridge ratings within 10 miles of any address in the US on Transportation for America's web site.

Here's to hoping that someone finally pays attention.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Auto break-ins on the rise in Griffith Park

While the City decreases patrols in the park citing budgetary reasons, thieves are taking advantage of this and car break-ins are on the rise.

Last Saturday, 6 different autos were hit with 'smash and grabs' all before 10 am. Some of the parking lots hit include the Marry Go Round lots and others along Zoo Drive.

Park rangers begin patrol at 10am and go off duty at 8pm. When park rangers are not on patrol, the agency solely responsible for patrolling in City parks is the Office of Public Safety.

When parking in Griffith Park, it probably goes without saying that you should take all valuables with you and not leave them in your vehicle. Also, never leave anything of value in plain sight. Finally, if you are victimized, make certain you report the break-in to both the park rangers and the Office of Public Safety so that it is appropriately recognized in both departments, and then investigated.

Unless public pressure comes to bear, more decreases in patrols are in the works.  Stay safe.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lights Out in Sunland

A tree fell over in Sunland Park late this afternoon taking a couple of power poles with it. Lights have been out for hours over a large swath of north Sunland. My power just came back on moments ago.

Friday, March 25, 2011

LaBonge's laundry list for Griffith Park

It certainly didn't take long for newly re-elected councilman Tom LaBonge to start work on leaving his legacy all over Griffith Park.

Here's the letter he presented to Recreation and Parks Commission President Barry Sanders at Wednesday's meeting.

The devil lies in items like #15, where less is certainly far, far more.

And item #4. The re election of all City Council incumbents will likely result in the mass giving away of public assets and public funds to chosen non-profits and campaign contributors reaching an all-time high over the next four years.

Then there is item #1 - the Griffith Park Master Plan now reduced to a Vision Plan so that it can be filed away and ignored. Public meeting about this as the Griffith Park Master Plan Working Group meets with the Department of Recreation and Parks ostensibly to discuss:

Thursday March 31st, 2:00 p.m.
Ranger Station Auditorium
4730 Crystal Springs Drive, Griffith Park

Reality check: Recreation and Parks isn't in full control of what happens to the Master Plan.

(click pages to enlarge)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

LAPD/Bikeside Training Video

Okay, so it wasn't directed by Christopher Nolan and the score sounds like it was lifted from an episode of CHiPS, but if you're a bike commuter and have 14:38 to spare, this video contains great information, helpful information, superb information for cyclists and drivers in L.A. Kudos and thanks to Bikeside and LAPD for this.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Griffith Park moving to CD 13?

The new 2010 Census data for LA City is out and City Redistricting is right around the corner.

BlogDownTown has a great map showing changes in the populations of different council districts. The biggest 'loser' is CD 13, meaning they'll need more territory.

CD 13 is next door to CD 4 - conceivably, parts of CD 4 could end up there.

Hey - we think that Griffith Park would be a great addition to City Council President Eric Garcetti's district!

It's not like Griffith Park has always been in CD 4 or something.  Back in the 1980s, at least part of the park was in CD 2 with Joel Wachs representing.

Hike with the Councilman 2nite

From LaBonge's e-newsletter:

Please Join us for Tom's Annual Spring Equinox Hike
     

The rain has stopped ... Spring has arrived.  It's time to get out and enjoy it!  It's been said that the best invitations are the last-minute kind.  So, please join us Tuesday, March 22nd, at 5:45pm to celebrate the Vernal Equinox on our annual Griffith Park Hike.  Bring a friend ... bring a camera and meet us at the Charlie Turner Trailhead, just north of the Griffith Observatory parking-lot.  The sun will set at 7:10pm, and you'll Spring into the season with a smile on your face.  It's just another way we continue to enjoy and love the great City of Los Angeles!  See you there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

[Hallerwatch] NBC Universal Project: Build It!

Frankly, I don't know where else they should build it. Florida, perhaps? Here's the link with Comcast/GE's gloss on it: http://nbcuniversalevolution.com/.
For those of you who think I'm in favor of the development, count me as "interested." I'd love to see the studio pony up more places for people to live closer to work, more long term, higher paying entertainment industry jobs and several years' worth of construction jobs. My hope would be that the plans include the greenest standards in the construction phase and LEED Platinum standards for design in creating a walkable entertainment industry centered community built around alternative transit. I'm not arguing with the SCNC, Transit Coalition or Friends of GP -- all present valid points (along with a few silly ones), but Stephen's piece below was published during the heat of his battle for CD4 and is a little heavy on campaign rhetoric.

Addendum: Full disclosure, a few years back, a couple enviros and I were invited to lunch by reps of the architect's firm. We were shown the plans, discussed air quality, LEED standards, etc. I had the salmon.

Friday, March 18, 2011

[CityWatch] NBC Universal Project: All Wrong

NBC Universal Project:

Example of All that’s Wrong with LA Planning Process

CityWatch, Mar 1, 2011
Vol 9 Issue 17

NBC Universal’s Evolution project is moving forward in a City of LA planning process that is a clear demonstration of all that is wrong with planning and land use policy in the City of Los Angeles. The developer driven process starts with an attack on the already low standards that purportedly protect the people of LA and then continue with exceptions and variances that result in a full assault on the local community.

Developer funded Environmental Impact Reports (EIR), traffic mitigation plans, and community benefit proposals all create a Kumbaya message that is in stark contrast to the simple reality; our infrastructure is collapsing, our streets are congested, emergency services are already challenged, and our environment is choking.

Through it all, the people we send to City Hall stand by and when pressured are only able to come up with one objection, “We need more time!”

NBC Universal’s Evolution project is positioned as an upgrade to existing film production facilities while the simple reality is this, it is the creation of a new residential community on a 391-acre property bordered by the LA River and the Hollywood Hills.

In support of the project comes a 39,000 page EIR, a document so large that it serves to highlight the implausible “hugeness” of the project that is being shoehorned into a patch of land, “all without expanding the current property.”

As Councilmember Tom LaBonge stood before the Planning Commission and asked for an extension of the hearing process until after the March 8 election, organizations from all directions stood by with well reasoned and researched commentary that falls on deaf ears.

The Studio City Neighborhood Council submitted a 98 page review of the Evolution project that comprehensively reviewed the project and concluded “The DEIR does not adequately address the impacts on the community from the proposed Project.” Anyone who has tried to navigate Barham during rush hour knows that the impact on the surrounding communities is already beyond capacity.

The Transit Coalition submitted an analysis of the Evolution project’s transit, bike, and pedestrian accessibility. It challenged the project’s claim of a modal shift away from private vehicles and called for “important modifications to meet the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) standard for less than significant impacts.” Anyone who has tried to walk up the Universal hill or navigate the incomplete river bike path knows that the projected mode shift is simply wishful thinking unsubstantiated by reality.

The Friends of Griffith Park analyzed the Evolution project’s impact on the surrounding environment, including the Santa Monica Mountains Range and the Los Angeles River Corridor, and concluded by stating “the scope of the project must be reduced dramatically in order to fully comply with CEQA mitigation requirements.”

Anyone who has ever stood on top of the Mt. Lee knows that the existing ecosystem is incompatible with any further development assault.

This cry for help is an indictment of the process for three reasons:
  1. City Planning’s current cost-recovery process simply allows developers to shop for the solutions and decisions that serve them, forcing residents to fight an uphill battle against a ticking clock as LA’s soft City Plan fails protecting the character and personality of our neighborhoods.
  2. The Mayor and the City Council’s laissez-faire attitude to development run amok is a complete abdication of their mandate to develop, implement, and enforce a comprehensive, long range General Plan that establishes purposes, policies and programs for the development of the City of Los Angeles.
  3. Neighborhood councils, advocacy organizations, and community groups have risen to the occasion, demonstrating with their comprehensive and professional analysis of the Evolution project that LA has become a DIY city, one where our commitment to the future of LA comes from the neighborhood, not from City Hall.
The people of LA have the right to expect a well-planned, well-funded city that operates based on standards that the people of LA can depend on.

Stephen Box is a grassroots advocate and writes for CityWatch. 
He can be reached at:   Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Japan's nuclear crisis hits very close to home

This story starts with something rather personal.

My grandfather, Joe Haaga, was for all intent and purposes my dad.  My grandparents had four children including my mother. As far as I know, he and grandma were pretty much the typical straight-laced 1940s' kind of parents that usually come to mind. As the family patriarch, my mother says her dad was loving father, but always at a 1940s-appropriate distance.

I was the first grandchild, born on my grandparents' anniversary in the mid '60s. Mom and dad separated almost immediately and we found ourselves living with my grandparents. For some reason, when I came along, that stiff 1940s veneer of my grandfather's broke down completely. I was raised by Papa, and as I remember it, he was the most loving, affectionate father any child could ever want.

The first seven years of my life were pretty much all about my grandfather and me. We did everything together from the minute he would come home from work. I watched football on his knee while we rooted for the Dolphins and Raiders.  He knew a little about that, having played QB while in college at Notre Dame and had a bum knee to show for it. Today's players were whimps, he'd grumble. Although too young to understand back then, today I'd wholeheartedly agree given that, at the time, football was losing the last of its incredibly tough 60 minute'ers.

And oh boy, he spoiled the hell out of me. And like any good father, he worried and fussed over me. I was not a healthy child from birth, and he took good care of me.  This man was father, in every sense - and a damn good one. During the short time we had, I could not have been any luckier in life.


J.A. Haaga at Tokai Mura, Japan in 1962
Joe Haaga was someone else of importance in life, too. He was also J.A. Haaga II - nuclear engineer. 

 J.A. Haaga was truly a pioneer in the field of nuclear energy. As he entered college, nuclear energy as a reliable form of power generation was in its infancy. The spectre of Nazi Germany developing an Atomic bomb brought the best and brightest to Chicago to defeat them. It wasn't long before Haaga found himself working directly with Enrico Fermi on the Manhattan Project  at just 22 years of age, helping the Italian scientist with reactor experiments.

From there, while employed by Du Pont, he worked at both Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Hanford Nuclear plant throughout the 1940s, well before Hanford notoriously became the de facto nuclear waste dump throughout much of the Cold War.

Some of the APED Team at Dresden
Moving to General Electric, Haaga first organized and managed all training of the combined GE-US Navy crew assigned to develop the reactor for what became the USS Nautilus - the United States' first nuclear submarine. In a small momento box, I recently found a "USS Nautilus necktie clip" of all things, commemorating those who worked on the project.

When GE went into nuclear energy full time, Haaga became GE's Atomic Power Equipment Department [APED] lead manager. His team oversaw the installation and safety training for all GE-manufactured reactors throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Haaga and his team started up more than thirty different reactors, including Con-Ed's Dresden Plant in Illinois (pictured) during his time with APED. By 1960, he had started up more nuclear reactors than any man in the world.

In 1962, GE sent Haaga to Japan where he led the start-up of the GE-designed Light Water Critical Assembly at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute in Tokai Mura, Japan. It was this trip that my grandfather fell in love with Japan, the beautiful people and their culture. He brought back with him Japanese screens and artwork that became a part of the household that was later my home as a child.

As a nuclear engineer, 'safety above all' was J.A. Haaga's stock in trade. By the age of 45, he was already known in the industry as 'the Old Man of the Mountain' when it came to reactor safety.  He was lead author on a seminal paper: "Safety Achievement in the Startup and Initial Operation of Eighteen Reactors" that is still cited in current nuclear literature. About my grandfather's commitment to safety, George C. Fullmer - at times a APED team member and at times a competitor - related in his book The Great American Carpool and Other Stories that a reporting supervisor once complained to him that 'Joe would give them no room to move on their own outside standard (reactor) procedures because "Joe knows all the tricks; he's pulled them all himself so he won't let anyone do the same."'

The Fukushima reactor installations came in the late 1960s. General Electric manufactured reactors were to be installed at Fukushima 'Dai-Ichi' (#1), becoming Reactors 1, 2 and 6 on the site. The APED team, led by my grandfather, spent the better half of the decade back and forth from Fukushima. He loved traveling there. He would have lived in Fukushima, I think, if that had somehow been logistically possible. Grandma went with him on occasion, and related with a broad smile that some living around what was then a very remote area had never seen anyone before with freckles like she had. I still know a few words of Japanese my grandfather taught me as a kid. 

Fukushima in a way led to my grandfather's untimely death. There were major problems growing with the contractor on this installation, Ebasco: a unionized company GE itself had created at the turn of the century. To the professional tasked with the safety of what might be an entire city in the worst-case scenario during a reactor installation, Ebasco's "contracted" work for GE was a growing concern and running way over-cost. My grandfather went to his boss repeatedly about problems that were occurring with Ebasco on projects. His boss tried to go upward, and ran into a huge brick wall. This was highly political, and millions if not billions of dollars were at stake. The GE hierarchy did not want to listen to either man.

Ultimately, push came to shove over Ebasco during the MillStone Point reactor project in 1969, and neither my grandfather nor his boss, Ray Dickman, would back down. They were both was heavily retaliated against, made scapegoats, and one day found themselves '...in an office where the phone never rang', as my grandfather described it to our family. He left GE, and went to work for Jersey Nuclear. I was old enough to remember when Exxon Nuclear then acquired Jersey in the early 1970s.

Whether it was the stress of the Ebasco incident, or just his stressful life in general isn't known, but all of this was ultimately just too much. After 7 major heart attacks, my grandfather passed away at just 52 years of age in 1973. Ray Dickman died just months later. Meanwhile, GE and Ebasco finished installation of Fukushima Reactor 6 the same year. Later the same decade came vindication in a very public way:  cost overruns and shoddy construction of five nuclear power plants by contractor Ebasco in Washington State caused most of them to be 'mothballed' to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, earning the "Washington Public Power Supply System" [WPPSS] the moniker Whoops!  Had he been alive, my grandfather would have had the opportunity to say 'Told ya so.'


Life was very difficult after the passing of the head and heart of our family. That's all I'll say about that. But I did inherit my grandfather's A-type personality, a bit of his brain for science and slightly raunchy sense of humor. First and foremost, with my background in physics, today I too hold his belief that nuclear power - first Fission, which is what we have now - then Fusion in the future will mean clean energy for humanity if the technology is managed and advanced properly and safely.

Fusion reaction.
Fusion reactors in theory will have no dangerous radioactive byproducts like Fission reactors do, and their potential for clean power is effectively limitless. Fusion needs to be pursued. Nuclear Fusion is not the same as Nuclear Fission, yet today your average man on the street doesn't know the difference - they're unjustly terrified of anything with the word 'nuclear' in it.

Sadly, the nuclear industry has suffered decades of funding cuts, decaying infrastructure, and safety failures since the Old Man of the Mountain permanently left the field. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and ultimately even Tokai Mura have suffered deadly systems failures (Tokai Mura 1999 was not a reactor failure). Consistently well-funded research in Fusion reactors has never really existed in my lifetime. The fearful confusion between Nuclear Fusion and Nuclear Fission continues unchecked in the general populace.


Which brings us back to Fukushima. The disaster unfolding at Fukushima and Japan itself as I type this would break my grandfather's heart today as the project itself ultimately did back then. I myself take heart in knowing that it took forty years of different management, a 9.0 earthquake and a cataclysmic tsunami to dislodge the strong foundation of nuclear safety my grandfather and his professional team put in place at Fukushima. My thoughts and prayers and that of my entire family go out to the heroic people of Japan.
---

Related:
Read Bill Dedman's summary of GE-type reactors in service in the United States at MSNBC.com

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Station Fire recovery update: public meeting 3/23

Recovering From the Station Fire: 2011 Update

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
7:30 p.m. 
Eaton Canyon Nature Center
1750 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena


This program is free and the public is welcome. A social reception at 7 p.m. precedes the 7:30 program sponsored by the Angeles Chapter’s Forest Committee.


How are the San Gabriel Mountains faring since the Station Fire of 2009?

What lies ahead for Angeles National Forest this second spring after the huge fire that burned one-quarter of the forest?

Please join us at 7:30 pm March 23 for a special program on how an iconic mountain range is recovering. Marty Dumpis, Acting Forest Supervisor of Angeles National Forest, and a team of experts will present an update on forest conditions. Marty will open with an overview of how nature is doing and where it might need help from us, or just time to heal.

Other Forest Service speakers will provide updates on trail restoration, recreational opportunities, and the struggle against invasive plants.

Rounding out the evening, Gabi and Cliff McLean will share their photos of the wildflowers in our local mountains and the “fire followers” that appear in burned areas. Gabi, president of the California Native Plant Society, San Gabriel Mountains Chapter, is a nature photographer and docent naturalist. Cliff is a computer programming specialist. Together they produced a 2008 CD interpretive guide “Plants of the San Gabriel Mountains: Foothills and Canyons.”

There also will be news of coming Forest Committee hikes and events, and an update on the growing momentum to create a San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area.

For information, email donbremner(at)earthlink.net or John Monsen: wildernessjfm(at)aol.com.

Directions to Eaton Canyon: From the 210 Freeway in Pasadena, take the Altadena Drive exit (if westbound on the 210, take the Sierra Madre Blvd. off ramp and at the bottom go west another few blocks to Altadena Drive), drive north toward the mountains about a mile, and 500 feet after crossing New York Drive, turn right into Eaton Canyon Park. The Nature Center is on the left from the parking area.


View Larger Map

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bill Haller For Mayor: Real Reform with a Capital "ARGH!"

Yeah. I know! It is a shocker of an announcement.
Normally, I'd just run on my good looks, but the bathroom mirror has not been polling in my favor since about 1981 and collagen shots in my lips would be wrong on so many levels... I do know that I am guaranteed at least one vote; mine; and if the animal rights activists could ever get their act together, I'm pretty sure I could get my Basset Hound's. But, since winning will take more than two votes, I figured I should offer some real reforms instead of the sensible reforms offered by many recent candidates -- and ignored by a majority of voters -- in the last election.
Here we go:
Spin Neighborhood Councils Off Into 501(c)3 Orgs
NCs have become the equivalent of the kids' table at Thanksgiving -- except no one ever graduates to the grown up table. They also have a shelf life of about two years immediately after charter, whereupon the whole thing becomes rather radioactive (witness the lack of a waiting line outside prior to meetings -- there are more people in my dentist's waiting room); Bylaws go out the window along with Rules of Order and public debate becomes a monthly heckling festival over land use. CMs may tout their usefulness (in maintaining a base) but has any CM ever run a new idea through an NC before presenting it to the City Council? You'd have to dig deep for that answer. So, we spin off NCs into non-profs (here's $25 grand, now go raise your own damn money), we eliminate DONE, BONC and any other oversight org with an unhelpful acronym; we eliminate the annual budget dog and pony shows, unproductive hours of district deputies in insanely long meetings having to make community announcements to the same six attendees; we eliminate the wasted phone time of city attorneys having to answer questions about liability, and we eliminate Brown Act oversight. An NC doesn't have much more sway over a CM than an HOA does -- through its 501(c)3 status, the HOA is actually more capable of making their point more powerfully. Spin off NCs. We'll save money, but more importantly, we'll all be happier people and nicer neighbors.
Solve Childhood Obesity While Increasing The Number Of LAUSD Teachers
This one's easy. Contract all of LAUSD's food services through Subway. Hey, it worked for Jared. He lost weight and now hangs out with world-class athletes in commercials. This is what all LAUSD children can achieve (our slogan: "If you believe it, you can achieve it!"). And even if kids only order cheese and bread sandwiches every day, let's remember that food costs would be dramatically decreased and, really, nobody was going to eat the Turkey Casserole anyway. Granted, a lot of lunch ladies would be out of work, but since we're now saving so much money (and hiring new teachers!) we can take the "nice" ones and turn them into teacher's aides. The mean ones can go work at real Subways.
Increase Mass Transit Use
A couple good ideas here: Hire ex-supermodels, celebrities and former rock stars from the 70's through the 90's to serve as "Transit Hosts." This is L.A., there are plenty around that could use the work. Each one could be on a regularly scheduled bus or a train car signing autographs, taking pictures and talking about the old days before they had to ride a bus. Tourism should increase exponentially as travelers worldwide would flock here just to ride with Danny Bonaduce or Kim Richards. We can do that or we could license one car per subway train to a Pot Collective. We could probably keep the trains running all night if we did that.
No L.A. Business Tax Forever On Billion Dollar Corporations Headquartered Here/Double The Tax On Small Businesses Under $1B Gross
This should really incentivize the small business owners.

'Protest hike' over development of popular Franklin Cyn trail this Saturday

Credit: http://www.savefranklincanyon.com
A historic and popular hiking trail in the Coldwater Canyon area  is under imminent threat from development.


View Larger Map

Developer Mohamed Hadid of Hadid Development has begun excavation on a mega mansion in scenic Franklin Canyon on land that the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy has attempted to acquire as open space for a number of years.

A protest hike will take place at Franklin Canyon this Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 10am to oppose the destruction of the trail. Go to Save Franklin Canyon's web site or contact Ellen Scott directly for more information on the event.


Paul Edelman of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy described the project history like this on the SaveFranklinCanyon web site:
When the MRCA’s Santa Monica Mountains Open Space Preservation Assessment District No. 1 was funded in 2003 money became available to acquire the subject property.

A first appraisal was done in approximately 2005 covering a minimum of five ownerships along the ridgeline. We were negotiating with virtually every landowner and had a couple of them almost on the hook. They were all shocked that their property had just nominal value because of poor and steep access.

In any case, all of the acquisitions fizzled because of reasons like death, uncooperative partners, unreachable owners, Mr. Hadid, etc… Some of the owners needed cooperation with others to string together access to Coldwater Canyon. Acquisition money was not an issue.

Then Mr. Hadid stepped in at some point and acquired the whole show. He initially said he would not sell for a factor much higher than even the available $3.5 million. Every 9 months or so his agent would check in to see if we do a deal for more.

Ever vigilant to protect this land, the MRCA contacted Mr. Hadid to see if he would hold off on a sale or development while the MRCA did yet another appraisal. That appraisal is dated April 2008. The value did not interest Mr. Hadid. Staff checked with his agent at least two times since then to see if Mr. Hadid had a change of heart to sell at the MRCA’s appraised value. The answer was no.

Staff recently heard through sources that Mr. Hadid had a $10,000,000 offer on the table from a developer wanting to do at least eight estates. To the best of our knowledge that transaction fizzled but the records do show that the property was recently transferred to another entity.

In short, the MRCA cannot pay more than appraised value, and the gap between the owner’s expectations and appraised fair market value has been too great for over five years.

Kevin James running for Mayor

Credit: Wikipedia
Didn't see this coming.

Radio broadcaster and at least occasional GPW blog reader Kevin James is running for Mayor.  He joins Wendy Greuel, and Austin Beutner as highly-likelys in the fray.

Although we don't always agree with Kevin, we are grateful for how much coverage he gives local politics in his radio show - something sorely lacking throughout Los Angeles.

Press event will be Wednesday March 16th at 10am on the South Lawn of City Hall.

Interesting!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Park Advocacy Day March 22 In Sacto

If you're into hiking, exercise, random bee stings and coyote bites, here is an excellent idea:
Tell Your Legislator!
On March 22, more than 150 folks just like you will be up in the State Capitol forcing assemblymembers and state senators into hiding under desks, in cloak rooms and locked bathroom stalls by personally delivering YOUR letters in support of our state parks. Think of the joy you'll get as you imagine your elected representatives literally running into each other to escape the clutches of granola-chomping, khaki-wearing enviros carrying stacks of biodegradable, post-Starbucks 40% recycled paper with YOUR John Hancock on it demanding life, liberty and the pursuit of open spaces. Let your voice be heard.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be Proactive, Be Prepared

While you're watching today's earthquake coverage, you might want to check out SOS Survival Products out here in Lake Balboa. Make sure you're up to date with a survival kit in your car, five-year water for your house, fire extinguisher, gas wrench...it doesn't hurt to be up to date on your first aid and CPR training, either. Don't wait until after our big quake to be prepared.

DWP work causes Griffith Park road closure

If you're one of the thousands who bypass the I-5 by speeding through Griffith Park daily, heads up!

A heavily traveled section of Crystal Springs Drive between the LA Zoo and Park Central will be closed from March 1st through November 1st to accommodate the DWP's massive River Supply Conduit replacement project.

The section of the road that is closed runs from the intersection of Crystal Springs Drive and Griffith Park Drive northward to the bus turnaround at the Autry Museum.

The detour route is Griffith Park Drive, accessed near Shanes' Inspiration. Or the freeway, which is more appropriate and a heck of a lot shorter.

For those taking the detour, remember that the speed limit is 25 mph in the park.


View Larger Map

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Why You'll Usually Find Me On A Bike Or A Bus....

Station Fire scars


Gold Creek road and Trail Canyon (left side of image) as seen from Mt. Lukens last week.

(click image to enlarge)

James Hadaway, past GM of Rec and Parks, passes

Our condolences to Mr. Hadaway's family.

From the obituary published in the LA Times:
Hadaway, James
November 27, 1928 - March 7, 2011
General Mgr, City of Los Angeles Parks & Recreation Dept. (1976-92) & Memphis, TN, 1967-76. Survived by wife Nelwyn of 63 yrs & Children: Robin, Kirk, Kerry Petty & six grandchildren. Services 10 a.m. March 11, 2011, Journey of Faith Church, Manhattan Beach, CA. Donations in lieu of flowers to the Special Olympics. 
James Hadaway, who emphasized the renovation of inner-city parks as general manager of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department from 1976 to 1992, has died. He was 82.

Hadaway, who had cancer, died Monday at his Hermosa Beach home, his family said.

"He was the architect of the urban impact program, which refurbished parks and recreation centers in inner-city and lower-income areas that had been kind of neglected," said Kevin Regan, assistant general manager of the department.

"It has had a profound effect on the way the Department of Parks and Recreation operates today. And it has benefited the community since," Regan said.

As the third person to lead the department since it was formed in 1947, Hadaway oversaw 350 city parks, 150 recreation centers and 92 miles of hiking trails. He had almost 2,200 full-time employees and a $96-million annual budget when he retired.

During his tenure, $250 million was spent to establish new recreation centers.

One new 160-acre park surrounding Lake Balboa opened in 1990 in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area even though the lake would not be ready to be filled for two years.

"We thought we ought to open it up for people to use," Hadaway said in 1990 in The Times. "We've got places where people can picnic, fly kites and throw Frisbees around."

In 1986, Hadaway caused controversy when he fired Los Angeles Zoo director Warren Thomas and accused him of mishandling animal transfers and using zoo supplies for personal use. Thomas was reinstated but abruptly resigned in 1990 over similar charges.
Read the rest at the Times.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sad attempt at smearing Box indicates real fear in incumbent LaBonge

How scared must Tom LaBonge be of Stephen Box?

The answer seems to be "a ton", and it's really kind of shocking.

Most newspapers won't publish smear material within a few days of an election, knowing full-well that smear is the obvious intent.  Yet today's LA Times published a pathetic smear piece about Stephen, dragging up some alleged old liens which have been resolved but are apparently not off someone's books. The Times not only published very late, but they held the story - and I use the term story very loosely - until election day.

Credit: Life.com
Only one individual with a vested interest in the outcome has the power to make the Times publish this non-issue this late in the game, and that would be the councilmember. This comes on the heels of LaBonge's campaign incorrectly calling both Box and O'Grady 'republicans' in phone solicitations and email from one of his very own council aides, and in at least one article with quotes from LaBonge insinuating that the fact that his challengers immigrated to the United States makes them somehow less suitable for the City Council.

Shame on Tom. He and I have had occasion to interact for nearly a decade now, and I've never known him to be this much of an idiot and a coward. He must really be scared.

As for the alleged liens, they're a non-issue. How many of us have crap on record that we weren't even aware of? That's exactly why everyone should check their credit reports from all three credit agencies annually, just for starters. A person in northern Cal with my same name led to a year of me being harassed by their creditors not too terribly long ago. It took an awful lot of of my personal time to convince these people that the fact that we had different social security numbers did, in fact, mean we were two different, entirely unrelated individuals.

But I digress.

Smear-mongers will say that a paper trail of old liens adds up to fiscal irresponsibility. They're dead-wrong. In reality, the exact opposite is the case. Old liens that were paid off shows that a person took full responsibility for debts owed during what may have been difficult financial times in their lives. That takes true strength of character, and  
Stephen Box has exactly that - strength of character.

Difficult financial times ares something a lot of people have experienced lately, perhaps for the very first time in their lives. Painting them all with a brush of 'irresponsibility' would be wrong. But then, doing the right thing seems to go out the window where Tom LaBonge and politics is concerned.

Today, vote for someone who has the strength of character to do the right thing when times get tough: 

Vote Stephen Box for CD 4.



Additional 11:30am:   Neon Tommy has a piece about the 'robot call' that claims LaBonge's opponents including Stephen Box are 'Tea Baggers'.

Monday, March 7, 2011

On LaBonge's Watch, the price of Cahuenga Peak went up a factor of 10

Over the weekend, a tidy summary of fiscal malfeasance related to the purchase of Cahuenga Peak and attributed to Tom LaBonge appeared as a comment by "Informant" on Ron Kaye's blog.

Although "Informant" is incognito, we know that Informant's summary is indeed the chain of events that transpired with the bloated selling price of Cahuenga Peak. However, we're not so sure about the fraud alleged by Informant regarding the "Save the Peak" campaign.

We've mentioned the insane increase in the cost of the Cahuenga Peak property before on this very blog:
That in itself is enough come tomorrow to vote LaBonge straight out of office.

Here's the comment as originally published:
-----------------------------------------------------------------
By Informant on March 6, 2011 3:26 PM

Someone mentioned the Hollywood Sign Fraud. This matter has been turned over to the authorities. Labonge knows it was a fraud, but he continues to make it. LaBonge is a fool hardy person indeed.

This story is so long -- I will try to be brief.

Until LaBonge came into the picture in 2002, the Cahuenga Peak (which is northwest of Mt Lee where the H Sign is located) was unsaleable. After 9-11, Mt. Lee with the H Sign and with the sensitive telecommunications on top became matters of national security. Cahuenga Peak is 140 feet higher than Mt. Lee so a rocket launcher could easily cripple LA's telecommunications, e.g. the LAPD. That was a good reason to not sell Cahuenga Peak.

Nonetheless, in 2002 LaBonge allowed the Cahuenga Peak to be sold to a Chicago real estate speculator for $1.6 M who was free to sell to anyone in the world.

Yes, we were fortunate that the land was not resold. In 2010, LaBonge proposed to buy the Chauenga Peak for $12.5 M. The peak still was of national security interest, but that never bothered LaBonge. The only possible buyers were the City, the County, the state, or the feds. No one in their right mind would allow the land to be sold to just anyone. That strict national security limitation on the land surely held down the price. But no, not for LaBonge. None of the appraisals mentioned national security. Thus, LaBonge agreed to pay the developer $12.5 M.

Here comes the fraud. LaBonge could not find enough dupes to pay $12.5 M for land that was basically worthless. Then the Bait and Switch Scam. They draped huge SAVE the PEAK cloths over the Hollywood Sign and starting a world wide fraud that the Hollywood Sign was in danger of being torn down or and/or having a large development around it. That was fraud upon fraud upon fraud.

Cahuenga Peak is an entirely different mountain. There was ZERO danger to the Hollywood Sign in any way. To the extent any homes could be built on the peak to the northwest of Mt. Lee, one might see one or two homes on the ridge. Of course, one can see huge telecommunications towers right above the H Sign.

LaBonge then involved school children in the Bait and Switch scam by having nearby elementary schools support the SAVE the PEAK Bait and Switch Scam. Most the kids knew that Cahuenga Peak is one mountain and that Mt. Lee is another place altogether. It was like telling people they are buying a Cadillac and delivering Pinto.

But the developer, Fox River Financial, made out like a bandit.

For a while, LaBonge had taken down his postings about the SAVE the PEAK. Now he is desperately trying to have 15 years in office, his lie about Saving the Hollywood Sign comes out again. The truth is that the Hollywood Sign was never in any danger whatsoever. LaBonge could not raise the money to buy an additional 140 acres so he perpetrated a worldwide fraud to raise the money from people who did not know the difference between the Cahuenga Peak and Mt. Lee.

People have known about LaBonge's Bait and Switch scam for almost one year, but his opponents did not use it in their campaigns. Now, LaBonge himself is promoting his fraud as a reason to re-elect him. Since LaBonge has introduced his Bait and Switch scam into the campaign, people have the right to present the truth.

[RonKaye] Desperate LaBonge Dirties Himself with Last-Minute Smear Campaign

Desperate Tom LaBonge Dirties Himself with Last-Minute Smear Campaign
 
by Ron Kaye   March 5, 2011   9:40 PM 

I was going to let this go because last-minute smear tactics on the weekend before voters go to the polls is distasteful, a violation of journalistic ethics that I've only seen violated once in the mainstream media when the LA Times exposed Arnold Schwarzenegger's sex life at the end of the Gray David recall campaign.

But Tom LaBonge, who has been whining to everybody in City Hall for weeks about how he might lose Tuesday, has gone too far. No more Mr. Nice Guy - he's that desperate.

He's resorted on the campaign's final weekend to robo-calls to thousands of his constituents using Gov. Jerry Brown and former Mayor Richard Riordan to falsely defame challenger Stephen Box.

There is no tax lien against Box and LaBonge is not the only Democrat involved in the campaigns by Box and Tomas O'Grady. Besides, it's a non-partisan race.

Now I find in my email a blast from Carolyn Ramsay, LaBonge's deputy chief of staff, who without identifying her role on the city payroll, is urging voters to re-elect her boss (Ramsay-LaBonge.rtf)

I can't help but wonder how many of the email addresses she sent this to were acquired in her official capacity.

She argues that her boss isn't responsible for public services being slashed and the city being broke, which may have a small amount of truth in it since he rarely understands what he's voting on.

She ends her email by saying, "Vote for Tom LaBonge because Tom LaBonge works for us" -- actually, she works for Tom LaBonge is more like it.

If you want to know who to vote for, you just need to watch this short video clip of the single best moment of the seven races for City Council seats, Stephen Box's great "Titanic" closing statement at a forum last week:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

First poppies of Spring

March 4th,  Haines Canyon

Listen to Box, LaBonge and O'Grady in KPCC debate

Last minute debate with all three candidates for CD 4 held by KPCC is available here for listening.

It's especially enlightening when Patt Morrison tries to get lightweight O'Grady to actually answer a question.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

LaBonge nervous - uses illegal image in campaign flyer

This last-minute panic mailer by Tom LaBonge illegally uses officers in uniform in his campaign literature. The Ethics Commission should be pretty interested in this one.

So what's with the abuse of authority? Guessing Tom's feeling just a wee bit nervous.

Credit RonKayeLA.com

For a Better Future, Vote BOX FOR CD4

Griffith Park from Mt. Lukens

Mt Lukens yesterday.

Verdugo Mts are in the foreground. Click image to enlarge.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Griffith Park Wayist endorses.... CDs 6-14

Make your voice heard!

PLEASE VOTE   for your choices  NEXT TUESDAY

Griffith Park Wayist endorses the following candidates for CDs 6-14...


CD 6: ABC - Anyone but Cardenas. 

Choices:
RICH GOODMAN    Small Business Entrepreneur
TONY CARDENAS    Los Angeles City Councilmember
JAMES "JAMIE" CORDARO    San Fernando Valley Businessman
DAVID BARRON
In past elections, Tony Cardenas has allegedly been closely linked to Richard Alarcon (currently under indictment by the LA County DA), James Acevedo (CRA beneficiary among other nefarious development activities around town), and more than abundant tribal gaming money.

No matter how surgical some of his City Council dissections sound, the gentleman apparently has questionable friends and huge special interests hanging on.

As an aside, Zuma Dogg tweeted this about Acevedo just the other day:
  • Ya know, a funny name ZD stumbled upon during his Del Mar trip to visit Pension Fraud insider was "James Acevedo." You know, Cardenas' pal.
Very interesting, ZD. Would love to hear more.
--------------

CD 8:  Bernard Parks.

Choices:
FORESCEE HOGAN-ROWLES     Community Development CEO
BERNARD C. PARKS     Los Angeles City Councilmember
JABARI S. JUMAANE     Los Angeles City Firefighter
It's a hard call - Parks will become a double-pensioner to the tune of $400K annually in taxpayer funds when he retires. He's currently pulling in $250,000+ as a retired LAPD chief. The man is the poster child for what's wrong with the public employee pension system in this town. However, he's also been the most prudent in terms of City finances. But that isn't saying much given the current state of City's finances. Parks is still one of the 15 current and ex-councilmembers responsible for the city's fiscal woes.

As for the other candidates, neither has distinguished themselves enough to make a case.

Of note: Parks is LA Clean Sweep's choice.
--------------

CD 10: ABW - Anyone but Wesson. 

Choices:
HERB J. WESSON, JR.     Los Angeles City Councilmember
ANDREW "ANDY" KIM     Attorney
ALTHEA RAE SHAW     Victim Advocate
AUSTIN DRAGON     Employment Specialist/Businessman
LUIS MONTOYA     Small Business Owner
CHRIS BROWN     Private Business Owner
Herb Wesson must go. Period. Just a freeloader riding whatever pot of money he can latch onto. Time for him to retire so he can spend more time with his new grandchild. Anyone else would do a better job.

Of note: Austin Dragon is LA Clean Sweep's choice.
--------------

CD 12:  Brad Smith.

Choices:
DINESH "DANNY" LAKHANPAL     Businessperson
KELLY M. LORD, JR.     Small Business Owner
BRAD SMITH     Neighborhood Council Boardmember
NAVRAJ "SINGH" SINGH     Businessman/Restaurant Owner
ARMINEH CHELEBIAN     Boardmember, Neighborhood Council
MITCHELL ENGLANDER     Policeman/Councilmember Deputy
Mitch Englander is the guy with all the money and the blessing by his soon-to-be ex-boss, Councilmember Greig Smith.  The association with Greig Smith - one of the 15 current and ex-councilmembers responsible for the city's financial woes - is too much. It'll likely be business as usual with Englander who has the same connections as Smith, and Los Angeles cannot afford any more of that.

Brad Smith has had his ups and down, but seems to have a good grasp of the issues and how City Hall works.
--------------


CD 14:  Rudy Martinez.

Choices:
JOSÉ HUIZAR     Los Angeles City Councilmember
RUDY MARTINEZ    Small Business Owner
The race between Jose Huizar and Rudy Martinez has been nuthin' 'cept u-g-l-y.

We're leaning toward Martinez simply due to the fact that Huizar is one of the 15 current and ex-councilmembers responsible for the financial mess that this City is in. Change is good. If Martinez doesn't work out, he can be voted out in four years.

Of note: Martinez is LA Clean Sweep's choice.
--------------

Finally, we can't talk about the City's current fiscal state without noting that Wendy Greuel - who is now running for Mayor - and Jack Weiss are definitely two of the 15 responsible for LA's financial woes. Pauls Krek and Kor haven't been in office long enough to shoulder any substantial part of the blame... yet.

Word to the Pauls: that parenthetic allowance will expire pretty soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GPW endorses Paul Krekorian for CD 2

GPW endorses Paul Krekorian for Council District 2.

Since winning a special election a little over a year ago, Paul has kept most of his campaign promises while he and his staff have demonstrated excellent responsiveness to his constituents. His words during council sessions are carefully measured and generally dead-on point, this in stark contrast to others who seem to enjoy the sound of their own voices perhaps just a bit too much.

Krekorian's opponent, Augusto Bisani, is a very nice fellow, but someone who after two campaigns still doesn't demonstrate much improvement in his understanding of how City Hall works.