A Tribute to Patrick Caruthers: When the Grit of the City Matters as Much as the Glamour and the Glitter . . .

It would not be a completely true statement to say that bureaucratic sloth and sleazy politics at City Hall killed Patrick Caruthers – the church-going 19-year-old special needs high school graduate and LA Trade Tech student – in broad daylight in the most gang-infested and dangerous park in Los Angeles.

It would not be absolutely certain that Patrick would still be alive today if the surveillance camera system designed in January with funding approved in February had been installed in Jackie Tatum-Harvard Park in South LA in a timely matter, its final approval stalled for eight months until three days after he was dead.

It wouldn’t be totally fair to suggest that petty little men like Mitch Englander and Dennis Zine who do the bidding of the smiling face of power politics in LA, Council President Herb Wesson, actually pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Patrick shortly after he called his stepfather to report he was safe in the park.

No doubt some gang punk – part of the Six-Deuce Brims that has treated the park like private property for decades — shot Patrick in the back repeatedly at 3:15 in the afternoon a week ago Tuesday as he sat on a bench in the park that was his home away from home since he was six, the place where he volunteered to help others, where everyone knew him and cared about him.

Complete truth, absolute certainty and total fairness aside, Wesson is vengeful man who stole the heart of Bernard Parks’ constituency for himself in the redistricting process he corrupted and, in keeping with long-standing City Hall practice, punished Parks for opposing him and blocked his effort to serve his constituents effectively.

Complete truth, absolute certainty and total fairness aside, the evidence shows that Englander, the reserve cop, and Zine, the retired traffic cop – chair and member of the Public Safety Committee respectively – deliberately held up the camera contract for two critical months when it had already taken six months to get it through the LAPD, the City Administrative Office, the mayor’s office and into the Council system.

Englander was asked the day after Patrick’s murder by LA Times reporter Angel Jennings why the camera contract was stuck in his committee — why he refused to act on the contract in August and then canceled a mid-September meeting where he had promised to take action. Jennings reported:

“On Tuesday, a couple of hours before Caruthers died, Councilman Mitch Englander, chairman of the public safety committee, forwarded the initiative to the City Council for final approval, he said in a statement. An equipment issue that had been holding it up ‘seems to have been resolved,’ Englander said in an emailed statement.”

Englander’s statement was a lie.

There was absolutely no equipment problem; the design was completed by the contractor CelPlan Technologies in January, something the company has done hundreds of times.

The record further shows Englander did not waive consideration of the contract in his committee until two days after the murder, not “a couple of hours before Caruthers died.” That’s why it was put on the “special” agenda because the public did not have 72-hours notice required for regular agenda items.

And when the Council finally approved the contract last Friday, as an emergency measure, Zine tried to add to the cover up of what had happened by raising false and unfounded concerns about whether the company was charging different maintenance/warranty fees for different installations and whether it was delivering on its commitments.

The video of LAPD Commanding Officer for ITA, Maggie Goodrich, shows how indifferent to the truth Zine is, in this and in so many other cases, and how he bullied her as if she wasn’t doing her job properly when he is the one engaged in a cynical attempt to conceal why this contract was not speeded along.

The official city records show that Englander wasn’t telling the truth in other ways. (Harvard Park cameras contract)

The contract cleared Maggie Goodrich’s desk on May 11, was forwarded by Chief Charlie Beck to the Police Commission on May 16, and approved on June 5. Two days later, the letter of approval was sent to “Honorable mayor . . . attention Mandy Morales.”

Why it took from June 7 until July 31 for City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana and his staff to complete an “analysis” that is nothing more than pasting what Maggie Goodrich wrote in a long paragraph into a new document and adding a sentence recommending approval.

The next day mayor Chief-of-Staff Gaye Williams signed paperwork sending it to the City Council and assigned on Aug. 7 to Englander’s committee. But it didn’t get on his agenda until Aug. 24 because the meeting two weeks earlier was canceled, according to city records.

It was a busy committee meeting on the 24th what with the reserve cop, the retired traffic cop and a third cop, former Sgt. Joe Buscaino, also a committee member, enjoying their power as “policy makers” so much they demanded that LAPD brass deliver reports:

  • Relative to the false alarm program, including: number of alarm dispatches, number/percentage of false alarms, number of addresses with multiple false alarms, mechanism for informing false alarm bill recipients of availability of Alarm School, opportunity to appeal a false alarm fee, and criteria for granting an appeal.
  • Relative to the status of the fingerprint analysis backlog, how the Department’s plan maximizes available resources, and how incoming cases will be prioritized for analysis.
  • Relative to the impact of reduced staffing in the Department’s Latent Print Unit, the status of the current testing backlog, and how the implementation of the Department’s plan will be an effective resolution.

What with low-ranking officers turned Councilmen relishing the chance to harass the command staff, there just wasn’t time to deal with installing cameras that could have saved Patrick Caruthers life or provided evidence about who killed him.

So Englander continued the item to the mid-September meeting but he cancelled that – probably because everyone at City Hall was working so hard to give away the farm for Farmers Field to enrich billionaire Phil Anschutz and near billionaire Tim Leiweke without the city getting a dime, only promises.

What the official record shows is that Englander didn’t forward the contract “hours before” Patrick’s murder. On Sept. 27, two days later, the record says: “Public Safety Committee waived consideration of the item.”

Frantic to clean the record after the fact, Wesson put it on the agenda for the 28th, at the end of the day of the orchestrated celebration of closing the deal with whomever it is that will somehow own the company that was being granted a fortune in entitlements because of Leiweke’s ability to buy and manipulate City Hall.

That is when Parks found an opening to introduce the senseless murder of Patrick Caruthers near the start of the AEG festivities with its obscene glorification of the flag, the military, Watts Tower, the Dodgers, Roz Wyman, Peter O’Malley, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Rodney Peete and Time Warner Cable — the company that will deny broadcasts of Laker games for the next 20 years to anyone who can’t pay for the privilege to view them in English and Spanish simulcasts.

A chagrined Wesson couldn’t deny Parks an emergency motion near the start of the carefully scripted and staged meeting so he could provide a $50,000 reward for information about who killed Patrick. The detective investigating the case got to speak and so did Gail Sears, the devoted mother who raised her son with learning disabilities to be a good and decent and loving human being despite the violent environment the city tolerated around him.

Parks pointedly apologized to her for the long delay in installing the cameras and promised her, for what it was worth, that her son would be remembered with honor during the ceremony when the new skate plaza is opened.

After the Council Chamber had emptied and Leiweke and AEG had left with fabulously valuable entitlements in hand, Parks got to take up Item 31, the contract with CelPlan for the cameras.

He brought out South Bureau Chief Robert Green who told the story of years of police efforts to rid the Tatum-Harvard Park of the gang, to get the city to invest more than $8 million making it a quality park, of the frustration over how long it has taken to get the cameras.

He told how the Six-Deuce Brims terrorized residents, forced construction workers out of the park, coerced parks workers and gang intervention workers into participating in the their rap video showing how to humiliate women, intimidate men and turn cocaine into crack – how the minute the cops stopped patrolling the park, the hoodlums reclaimed their turf, which is why the cameras mattered so much.

Maggie Goodrich, LAPD’s chief of information technology, stood her ground under Zine’s assault, telling him in the nicest way possible that he was wrong and didn’t know what he was talking about — not that he cared what a woman had to say.

Used to taking advantage of women, Zine persisted, desperate like a man in quicksand. He prattled mindlessly, demanding “just a little bit more sales pitch on our side … understood from that, squeeze a little more out of them to give back for what we’re doing .. . that’s what I’m looking at,” lectured the man without the slightest qualification to be City Controller unless egotism and hot air are qualifications.

“Understood,” she said, but the look on her face tells you exactly what she thinks of him, what you should think of him, too.

This incident might be dismissed as a tragic mistake, a miscalculation made in the heat of political battle, if this were an isolated case.

But it isn’t. This is what goes on every day in every way in city government in Los Angeles.

No one in the world – certainly not the National Football League — except Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and your LA City Council would give the right to transform a vast area of downtown into a cold, soulless commercial horror show blazing in the night with digital billboards and not even know who they were doing business with as if it doesn’t matter whether you’re surrendering the parks to hoodlums or the future to the greedy.

No, they didn’t kill Patrick Caruthers. They just made his murder possible in small ways by not putting surveillance cameras in every park where the gangs operate and in big ways with a “Baghdad solution” that allows gangstas to operate with impunity as long as the violent crime statistics keep declining.

Patrick Caruthers should not be relegated to nothing more than a statistic.

His death should spur an all-out effort by the city to liberate the 10,000 residents of the Harvard Park area from their enslavement by the Six-Two Brims and to stop pacifying the violence and inhumanity of gangsters all over the city by allowing them to steal, deal drugs and terrorize so many.

That would be a fitting tribute for Patrick Caruthers, a sign that what goes on in the grit of the city matters as much as the glamour and glitter.

Who Killed Patrick Caruthers? Them — or Us?

The video above will give you the gist of a story, the teaser to make you pay attention to the full 15-minute movie about the senseless killing of 19-year-old Patrick Caruthers last week  as he sat on a bench in South LA’s Jackie Tatum-Harvard Park.

It was broad daylight, 3:15 p.m. and his assailant shot him repeatedly in the back and then fled in a small dark sedan.

For Caruthers, who had special needs because of a learning disability, the park was his home away from home since he was six years old. He was a park volunteer who recently graduated from Manual Arts High and was attending a vocational education program to learn a job skill.

The park has been under control of the 62 Brims gang for decades. At the urging of the LAPD and Councilman Bernard Parks, the city has spent more than $8 million in the last three years for a swimming pool, tennis courts, lights and a soon-to-open skate park as well as stepping up patrols.

But officials dropped the ball on the $200,000 for video cameras that might have deterred the murder or at least provided clues to who was responsible.

More later about why funding for the cameras was approved by the City Council last Valentine’s Day at Parks’ request yet it took six months before the issue came back to the Council and was buried in the Public Safety Committee chaired by Mitch Englander until the day after Caruthers was killed.

Here’s the full movie with a complete commentary to come after you’ve had a chance to watch it:

On the Raymond Avenue Tragedy: A Heartbreaking Personal Story

By Leslie Evans

USC and the nearby West Adams neighborhood where the double murder took place April 11 are still in shock. Police are hunting the cold-blooded killer in a widening manhunt, and a new wave of fear is settling into the neighborhood after two decades of reductions in local crime. As president of the Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association, the block club for the area where the murders happened, I want to express the most profound sympathy from all of our neighbors to the parents of Ying Wu, who lived among us, and of her male friend Ming Qu.

I met Ying Wu only once, in the home where she rented a room, four doors away from mine, and remember her as lovely and laughing. She had come from distant Hunan in China’s interior to study electrical engineering at USC. She was living with a nurturing couple and their daughter who are among my closest friends and in whose home I have spent many happy hours. On the day we met I had visited to watch Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western, Once Upon a Time in the West, with the homeowner, my friend David. As it was ending Ying Wu and her roommate came home. We were introduced and shared momentary pleasantries, they sampled the snacks I had brought and went up to their room. Yesterday the wanton violence of our celluloid afternoon became real and she was struck down at the age of twenty-three while talking in the rain in her boyfriend’s car. She was shot in the chest; he in the face. Trying to save her, Ming Qu, mortally wounded, made his way from the car, up the walk to the house. He banged on the door to summon help, breaking two small glass panes before falling unconscious. He died on the way to the hospital, also twenty-three. Under China’s one-child policy they were both only children.

A killer on the loose is a threat. Fear is also a threat. The killer will be caught, or will flee elsewhere. The fear can linger and paralyze a community, giving the forces of evil a victory they should not have won and did not deserve. A single bloody event can deliver a body blow to even the safest neighborhood. I attended graduate school and then held a staff job at UCLA from 1983 to 2005 and was in Westwood every day. There could hardly be a safer or more upscale community. Anchored by the university, Westwood is bounded by some of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country: Brentwood on the west, Bel-Air on the north, Century City and Beverly Hills on the east, West Los Angeles on the southwest. It was a thriving commercial center of vibrant restaurants and boutique stores. Then on a single day in January 1988 rival gang members who had drifted into town for a few hours got into a shootout in which Karen Toshima was killed – and Westwood turned into a ghost town.

More than half the stores went out of business. Empty storefronts and sparsely traveled sidewalks lasted more than a decade. There were still vacancies when I left UCLA in 2005, seventeen years later. This was the work of a single bullet. Westwood, once the rival of Old Town Pasadena, Melrose Avenue, and the Santa Monica Promenade, never again came close to those venues. Our West Adams neighborhood is far more fragile. It has seen more than one killing, though usually of gang members. It is not upscale, despite its wealth of turn-of-the-twentieth-century architect-designed homes. The majority of the residents are low-income Latinos and African Americans. There are gangs, not as once-in-a-lifetime transgressors but as a regular part of the scenery. So above all we need to stay sober and not panic over a single event, but look at where we are at.

Of course the students are frightened, as they should be in any community with a killer running free. The police, both LAPD and USC’s Public Safety Department, have redoubled patrols and are hunting him. The police routinely warn students about petty theft, street robberies, and theft of their bicycles or car break-ins. That for years has been the main risks of the area. The advice is to not talk on the cell phone while walking, don’t wear white iPod ear buds on the street, lock valuables in the car trunk, lock up your bicycle. Yesterday’s violence should have us add: don’t linger in automobiles after dark. Park and go directly to your indoor destination. That said, it is untrue that violent crime is common in this neighborhood. Without question there is too much panic mongering right now. I was disappointed when my Facebook friend, the well-known leftist journalist Marc Cooper, an associate professor at USC and director of the university’s Annenberg Digital News, posted to his Facebook page:

“I have thought of renting a small place near campus to stay over some nights as I live 60-80 minutes away in Calabasas but… but…it’s not really THAT attractive. An air mattress in my office might be a better choice.”

My wife Jennifer and I have lived in this community for twenty-four years, since March 1988, and the idea that it is so unsafe that it would be preferable to sleep on an air mattress on an office floor than live out among us residents is frankly appalling and exactly the kind of panic-mongering that can do great damage.

As to the real state of affairs: If one were to read Agatha Christie and then respond as Marc does, every English village would be depopulated. It is true that South Los Angeles has more than its share of the city’s killings – 40%. But these have been on a sharp downward slope for twenty years and are now lower than in the mid-1960s, despite a huge increase in population. There were 1,092 murders in Los Angeles in 1992. In 2011 there were 298. And of those the great majority were gang on gang killings or domestic violence. I can only speak from personal experience of a small part of the city, but that includes the block where the two killings took place yesterday, and is a major part of the neighborhood where USC students rent rooms in private homes west of Vermont Avenue. For the stretch between the 10 Freeway on the north, Jefferson on the south, Vermont Avenue on the east, and Normandie Avenue on the west, to the best of my knowledge the two killings yesterday are the first where the victims were not gang members or drug dealers since 1988.

We lived here during the worst of the gang war years, 1988 to 1992. There were numerous killings back then. In 1988 I know of two innocent victims in my neighborhood. After that, the killings were gang on gang, and these went into dramatic decline after 1992, and that is a long time ago. We didn’t flee then, nor did our many good neighbors. Even UCLA in its cocoon of wealthy white neighborhoods is not violence free. In October 2009 Damon Thompson, a student in a chemistry lab, stabbed a woman fellow student five times and slashed her throat, almost killing her. He was arrested for premeditated attempted murder. That September two students were stabbed, one in the stomach, at a UCLA fraternity party near the campus. Four people were arrested and charged with attempted murder.

Community members have worked with USC for years to calm exaggerated student fears of the surrounding neighborhood. As crime, especially violent crime, has abated over the years, real progress has been made in strengthening ties between USC’s administration, faculty, and students and the broader community in which the university exists. The events of yesterday are an atrocity and a tragedy. They are also an aberration from the usually calm daily life of our community and should not become the grounds for student flight to some far away refuge. Those of us who live out here in the neighborhood plan to stay.

SHAMELESS!

Without a clue as to what they were doing or even why, the City Council in a joint meeting with the yes-men and yes-women of Community Redevelopment Agency board agreed Tuesday to sabotage the governor’s efforts to restore solvency to California.

They voted against the poor, against students in need of a quality education, against libraries, against public safety.

They voted to support welfare to the rich and crumbs for poverty pimps. They knew full well that the $930 million they were confiscating would otherwise go to keep teachers in their jobs, for cops on the street, for librarians, for health services and  social service for the needist among us..

They disgraced themselves and they didn’t care. All they cared about what is good for the unions and the rich.

They did it because they think you don’t care either, that when the votes are counted late tonight, you will have re-elected LaBonge and Huizar and Cardenas and fallen for their phony ballot measures that don’t reopen libraries, solve the budget crisis, reduced pension burdens or brought accountability to DWP.

We’ll know soon enough if they are right.

The certainty is that the action the took today with only Paul Krekorian and the retiring Greig Smith objecting — LaBonge and Parks absent — will lead to lawsuits and countersuits when the Legislature abolishes all CRAs on Thursday or next week.

That will force Gov. Jerry Brown to slash spending for health care and education and social services of all sorts to the poor and needy and elderly. He will have no choice.

Those are the same people whose whose and needs have been betrayed by decades of taking billions of dollars in property taxes to subsidize maximize luxury projects for the benefit of giant corporations and the wealthy with crumbs off the table of power being gobbled up by non-profits that serve themselves far better than they do the poor and needy and elderly.

They were out in full force Tuesday along with small-time developers and city union officials egging the Council on.

Krekorian questioned the rush to judgment. Smith questioned the whole action. Koretz and Rosendahl questioned everything about the subterfuge but then rolled over and voted with their collegial gang.

It was shameless, a disgrace of public policy, a f— you to the people of Los Angeles and the state of California.

Here’s what the LA Times reported.

The LA Dilemma: Your Money or Your Life — What to Cut, Who Will Pay?

Never one to miss an opportunity to promote himself, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the occasion Tuesday of the formal release of the LAPD’s 2010 Homicide Report showing murders at the lowest level since 1967 to declare:

“This is not just a year-end statistic. It is perhaps the most powerful statement on the state of our city and our Police Department.” 
A perfect half-truth if ever there were one.
Clearly, the image of the LAPD, the performance of the LAPD, has not been better in anyone living’s lifetime — a tribute to the impact of nearly 20 years of reform efforts, the federal court consent decree, stronger leadership inside the department and strengthened civilian oversight.
The mayor says the drop in murder is due to the 800 officers added to the force since 2005 without noting most of them are doing jobs that used to be done by civilians whose numbers have been cut sharply to preserve his commitment to the magic 10,000 cops number — well almost 10,000.
But others raise questions about why the murder rate has fallen in LA and why the rate of solving the murders that do occur has suddenly dropped from 83 percent to 70 percent.
KFI’s Eric Leonard reported that last week the LAPD didn’t have even one detective available to go to the scene of a five-victim shooting in North Hollywood because officers aren’t paid for overtime and the cap on how much can be accumulated forces them to take more time off.
With the department millions of dollars over budget, the cap is being enforced so rigorously that a police captain was formally reprimanded for ignoring the overtime cap so detectives he supervised in South L.A. could solve a murder.
Many experts in crime question just how much impact improved community relations, widespread use of video cameras, DNA testing and other police technologies have contributed to a nationwide trend that has seen dramatic drops in crime in many cities, including Chicago which reports the fewest homicides since 1965.
“It
is instructive to look at the individual precincts and compare their
year-to-year homicides,”  Lisa Smith, a professor of criminal law at Brooklyn Law School, told the Christian Science Monitor in an article about the mayor’s press conference.
“How many of those homicides
involve strangers and how many are interpersonal disputes? How many
homicides are solved versus unsolved?” 
Indeed, some news reports show Watts and Westlake and some other neighborhoods still have high murder rates.
Jerry Sullivan, writing for New America Media, noted that on the day the LA Times ran a front page story headlined “Killing in L.A. Drops to 1967 Levels,” it ran a brief buried in the second section on the Christmas Day murder of a woman named Kashmier James, who was shot to death in front of her daughter at 85th Street and Western Avenue.
“The Times reported that there have been 137 murders within a two-mile radius of the scene of James’ death since January 2007,” Sullivan noted in questioning why mainstream media are not exploring what is going on in these homicide hotspots.
The issue of how important having nearly 10,000 LAPD officer is to keeping crime down is at the heart of the matter of what to do about the city’s massive budget deficit that is certain to get worse next year — $350 million — and far worse in the following years.
A report released Wednesday by the City Administrative Office and Chief Legislative Analyst (ALTERNATIVE PLAN TO THE CONCESSION AGREEMENT FOR A P3 WITH RESPECT TO THE CITY’S PARKING STRUCTURES C.F. NO. 10-0139-S1).pdf) details scenarios for immediate budget cuts just to deal with the $62 million deficit this year — none of which involve reducing the number of police officers — if the fire sale of the city’s parking lots is rejected.
The officers’ union, the Police Protective League, has taken a strong stand against continued hiring, arguing that restoring overtime to experienced officers will do more to keep a lid on crime at a lower cost than training new recruits. 
The mayor’s greatest failure is not “Ticketgate” or his gifts of enormous amounts of public money to friends and contributors. It is his failure to offer leadership to deal comprehensively with the budget crisis, offering only piecemeal solutions that have sharply reduced core services to the public while protecting officer hiring in the name of crime reduction — his only claim to fame.
“People often say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the mayor said Tuesday. “Well, the LAPD isn’t broken, and it doesn’t need fixing to the extent that we are providing the resources that they need.
“I would submit to you that as we begin budget deliberations — we’re looking at a $360 million deficit in the coming year — our commitment to maintain the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department at least at attrition levels today will go a long way to ensuring that we’ll continue our efforts to draw down crime in the city of Los Angeles.”
The CAO/CLA report reflects the mayor’s commitment.
It is a gun to the City Council’s head to approve the sale of nine city parking lots to net $53 million after paying off $250 million in debt on them just to get through the next six months without more furloughs, more spending cuts, more cuts in services.
There is no plan to deal with next year or beyond without more of the same — a downward spiral that threatens the quality of our lives and the future of the city.
Phase 1 of the CAO/CLA plan — if the parking lot deal is rejected — calls for more juggling of funds from one account to another and another round of funding cuts to  Recreation and Parks and Planning Departments and the City Attorney.
Hardest hit would be the Fire Department with a cut in funding of $10 million of the $53 million in proposed savings, putting the lives of many people at risk.
Many fire and ambulance stations already are closed on a rotating basis and deeper cuts will lead to even more. Paramedics only have four or five minutes to get to a person suffering a heart attack or other life-threatening crisis so people will die if it takes to long to get them help.
Phase 2 of the CAO/CLA plan would suspend police hiring until June and hit several other areas, including further cuts to the mayor and Council offices, to save $10 million.
What happens July 1 is anybody’s guess but it’s certain that one way or another city spending will have to be cut 10 percent more.
The city’s leadership has burned the civilian work force and the public for so long that all credibility has been lost which makes getting unions to the table for honest negotiations on how jobs and services can be preserved all but impossible — as impossible as selling the pubic on higher taxes.

This is the road to ruin. Nobody wins except the City Hall insiders and profiteers who still are feeding on the public trough.    

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‘Parent Trigger’ Shoots a Failing School

The Wall Street Journal suggested it could be the “shot heard ’round the world.”

The New York Times called it a “nightmare situation.”

The LA Times avoided such hyperbole, reporting flatly that parents with children attending McKinley Elementary in Compton were the “first to use California’s new “parent-trigger” law, under which a
majority of parents can force a school to shut down, replace its staff
or convert to a charter.

“Giving power to the parents — this is what this is all about,” declared Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a strong supporter of the Parent Revolution led by Ben Austin which successfully fought for enactment of a year-old state law that has shaken up the education establishment across the country.
parenttrigger.jpg
History was made on Tuesday when 60 percent of the parents of McKinley students, organized by the Parent Revolution, turned in petitions exercising their right to take over the school and turn it over to Celerity, a successful charter school operator.

With several other states moving to enact similar legislation, the Parent Revolution represents a radical shift in education, a devolution of power away from school boards and teacher unions and giving parents a direct say in the children’s education.

It has the support of the Obama Administration and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is running for mayor of Chicago in part on a pledge to enact a  “parent trigger” law.

It is what Neighborhood Councils were supposed to achieve in local government in LA but have been thwarted for a decade by the obstructionist tactics of City Hall.

Needless to say, the teacher unions are bitterly fighting against the parent trigger as you can hear in KPCC’s Larry Mantle’s interview Tuesday with Marty Hittleman, president of the California Federation of Teachers who has called the parent trigger a “lynch mob law.”
 
United Teachers Los Angeles, the LAUSD union, also vigorously opposes the parent trigger as well as the mayor’s top-down reform effort through the Partnership for LA Schools that got positive coverage Tuesday from columnist Steve Lopez.

Resistance to power sharing from those who have is to be expected but it should be clear to anyone paying the least attention that the winds of change are blowing hard across America, that the deep recession has exposed deep public discontent and the disconnect between our governmental institutions at all levels and people.

Like the citizen revolt that brought down the corruption in the City of Bell, the parent revolt over a failing school in Compton ought to inspire people everywhere to stand up against the failure of government to serve their interests.

This a revolutionary time in America.

The economy is never coming back to the point where hyper-consumerism defines the American Dream, the American way of life.

Dramatic changes are coming whether we resist them or stand by passively. Like the people of Bell and Compton, poor and largely minority communities, we are all need to become active participants in taking back our school, our cities, our states, our nation or leave it to others to determine what the new America is going to be like.

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Howling in the Streets: Who Needs Libraries When We’ve Got Millions of Dogs and Cats

Isn’t it about time we paid a little attention to what’s going on in our city with a leadership that increasingly looks like it is drawn from the homeless mentally denizens of Skid Row?

For a measly $10 million out of a city budget of nearly $7 billion not counting the billions taken in by the Harbor, Airport and DWP, we became the only big city in America to close our libraries two days a week and virtually stopped by new books — a crime against the people that is brilliantly documented in a devastating article in today’s LA Weekly by writer Patrick Range MacDonald..

I suppose there’s no point in having books and libraries when the schools are a miserable failure, half the kids drop out without a diploma and so many people are semi-literate.

Some believe the mayor made libraries the target of budget-cutting because he never a book and it didn’t stand in the way of his success in politics.library1.jpg

Maybe we should just burn the books that are left at LA Live in a giant bonfire celebrating our status as a competitor with Detroit for having the highest ranking for poverty and unemployment in the nation.

“We’re No.1. We’re No.1.” You can almost hear the chants of the riotous throng aroused to a frenzy by the glittering sex-crazed commercial messages flashing ceaselessly on the two dozen giant digital billboards surrounding them.

Let’s just empty all those beautiful new libraries we will be paying so dearly for over the next 20 years and convert them into more retraining centers for violent gang members — something we are spending tens of millions of dollars on without any proof that they actually achieve anything positive.

We can always take solace with the five dogs and five cats that the Lords of the Westside, Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl, want us to have in every home — men who look favorably on Kevorkianizing human beings but oppose euthanasia for vicious unwanted pit bulls.

It was just 360 days ago that we banned under threat of fines and prosecution anyone from owning more than one rooster in their yard because they make so much noise and so often are used for the blood sport of cockfighting.roosters.jpg

“We think this will make for a safer, more livable city for all of us,
and hopefully will prevent some of these roosters from being involved in
some very, very cruel, ugly, criminal activity,” said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the anti-crowing activist.H

Her desire to require cocks to be licensed like dogs ran afoul of the Animal Services Department experts who pointed out that half the city’s canines aren’t registered now and control officers spend 75 percent of their time on “leash-law
violations, stray animals, animal cruelty and animals that are hurt.”

“We are already in a
significant uphill battle with diminishing resources to improve our dog
licensing program, which is crucial because of the tie with rabies,” said.Linda Barth, assistant General Manager, who warned that the biggest problems were “animal cruelty … (and) huge stray animals running about endangering
people and hurt(ing) animals.”

So why not allow people to have five dogs and five cats in their home, more dogfighting, more feral felines, more strays?

Not at all, says Brenda Barnette, the dog-breeding new head of Animal Services.dogpack.jpg

Despite what the troublemakers claim, Barnette says the goal is to make more money from licensing to fill the empty city treasury and empty the animal shelters, which presumes everybody who expands the pet population in their homes will adopt an unwanted pet and license it.

She sent out an email blast on Wednesday to “alleviate
some of the unnecessary concern that is being stirred up about the proposed
increase in pet limits by offering you an explanation about the thoughtful
process that will ensue.”

Her “thoughtful process” allows for public input at town hall meetings tonight (Van Nuys Animal Shelter, 14409 Vanowen St., 6:30 p.m.) and next Wednesday before the experts like her and the politicians she serves decide what’s best for all of us — yet another example of City Hall’s mad rush to destruction like short-circuiting the entire planning process with rules that allow developers to do whatever they wherever they want.

“There are philosophical
elements that some may want to consider such as how much control the government
should have over citizens’ personal lives,,” Barnette says.

“For example, we do not mandate
how many children a family can have even though they may not be able to afford
to give their children what they need and deserve.  Is it right for us to
arbitrarily judge what pet guardians may or may not be able to afford in
the way of veterinary and other care for animals? Is it our responsibility to
assume that pet guardians are unable to make sound financial decisions about
their own budgets and that they need City oversight?”

No, LA may be Chinatown but it isn’t China.

People got rights to have as many pets as they want no matter whether they can afford them or not, no matter how trouble they make for others. After all, people have kids when the can’t afford to care for them, kids who all too often wind up gangs like packs for roaming dogs and make a lot of trouble.

Relying on wild assumptions and flawed logic, Barnette argues law-abiding citizens will increase the number of pets in their household by saving unwanted animals at the shelters, raising $792,000 for her department that can be used to crack down on the tens of thousands of scofflaws. 

“People who already break the
law whether it is not observing the leash laws, not purchasing dog licenses,
not getting their pets spayed or neutered or by becoming hoarders are
not likely to change because of or in spite of this motion if passed.”

You can only wonder what’s the point of any law if they have no effect on behavior. What we need is more cops, more jails to suppress the lawbreakers while the law-abiding save two million cats from the animal shelters and every man, woman and child in town has their own cuddly feline.

It only makes so much sense it’s hard to understand how the Daily News found critics of what is proposed.

The Apartment Association warned there are “serious issues of increased dog barking and other
animal noises, fleas, parasites and rodents, sanitation, odor and
animals escaping yards and causing dangers/nuisance to tenants.”

Added Phyllis Daughherty,
director of the Animal Issues Movement:

“This will set us back 20 years.It’s cruel to the animals. It’s cruel to
people who will have dog packs in the streets. L.A. will be known as the Barking City. There will be howling
in the streets – by dogs. (And) everyone will be howling at this to
City Hall.”

Nothing hasty or even absurd about any of this thoughtless process except the Koretz-Rosendahl motion would allow up to 10
dogs and cats per “resident” — something Barnette who already has made up her mind will be changed to “residence.”

Clearly, the inmates really are running this CIty Hall asylum.

Here’s Barnett’e entire email:

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Continue reading Howling in the Streets: Who Needs Libraries When We’ve Got Millions of Dogs and Cats

Crime Against the City: Closed Libraries and the City’s Fiddling Leadership

EDITOR’S NOTE: At 9:30 a.m. today, fired library workers and their supporters among city employees and ordinary citizens will stage a rally at the Richard J. Riordan Central Library, 5th and Grand, in protest against the policies of the mayor and City Council that have closed libraries two days a week. At the same time as the protest, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will take his broken elbow to the South Los Angeles Animal Shelter for a fund-raising event for his girlfriend and her Lu Parker Project which plans to paint the shelter’s lobby as its first effort on behalf of pets.

Don’t bother going to your local library today to read a book, use a computer or just cool off from the summer heat.

For the first time ever, our beautiful new libraries that we built at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars will be closed on a non-holiday Monday. Just like that, we have gone from a seven-day-a-week library system to a five-day-a-week system, from one of the best library systems in the world to a dysfunctional one.

It is a crime against the city and its people.
antonio-luparker.jpg
Years of throwing away the public’s money have led the city’s bankrupt leadership to lay off several hundred workers, starting with the libraries, then the parks, then building code enforcers and neighborhoods planners.

It’s a downhill slide. City workers who provide direct services to the public in general are the first to go, while those that provide bureaucratic services to the failed system itself and those that generate revenue — like services to help developers — are protected.

The reason is simple: The cost of wages and benefits for the city’s 50,000 workers are too high and can no longer be afforded.

They are too high because the mayor and Council gave city unions one sweetheart contract after another in exchange for the campaign cash and political support that put them into office and kept them there.

The unions are at fault for not looking beyond their immediate self-interest and seeing the impact that inadequate public services was having on the quality of life in our neighborhoods, for not seeing how high taxation and poor services was killing jobs and driving business away.

But they are not the criminals.

Our elected officials are the perpetrators of this crime against the city. They are the ones who cut the deals with unions, developers and contractors that have left the city broke, and broken. They did it knowingly and willfully for their own benefit without regard to the public interest, which makes it a felony in moral terms at least.

Everything they have done to deal with the fiscal crisis that was looming for years has only made things worse. It’s just one small thing among the thousands of wasteful things the city does, but dozens of library workers are at their jobs today in closed libraries,running up bills for air conditioning and lights.

The incompetence of our city officials extends to selling off valuable assets like parking structures and land holdings at the bottom of the market just to get through this year and have no plan to deal with the $300 million deficit next year or the $1 billion deficit the year after, no plan except more layoffs and new ways of squeezing more money out of the public through higher rates, taxes, fees and penalties.

And yet they party on with their lavish perks and enormous staffs and huge salaries, the nation’s highest.

Our freeloading ceremonial mayor sets the tone by acting like Nero fiddling while his city burns.

libraryrally.jpgTwo days after the librarians announced their protest for Monday morning, he puts out a press release for his girlfriend’s fund-raiser as if she were the city’s First Lady, not his second TV newswoman mistress.

He mocks us all with his behavior, even as his political lackeys insult our intelligence with their specious attempts to deflect the public conversation from how we fix what he has broken to a theater of irrelevant absurdities.

The Council is no better, spending endless hours on inane parliamentary maneuvers and distractions but fail to openly and honestly debate the real issues, refusing.to bring the civic, business, labor and community leadership to the table to find solutions and bring the city together to solve this crisis.

City Hall’s attempt at a preemptive strike against LA Clean Sweep and the effort to build a broad-based grassroots movement to elect better people for a greater city only shows how scared they are of the people, how intent they are on squelching the public conversation and protecting their privileged positions.

But it will fail like everything they do.

The community in all its diversity, with all its competing interests, with all its conflicts in values, will inevitably come together because our elected officials have neglected their sworn duties and are turning a crisis into a calamity.

It doesn’t have to happen. There is another way. It’s only a question of time and how much more damage is done before we come together.
 

Ex-Chief Gates Blames Politics for Gutting Enforcement of Special Order 40 Against Gang Members

In the face of LAPD ‘s adamant defense of every aspect of Special Order 40, former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates said Mondaythat officers weregates.jpg being handcuffed by City Hall politicians (click here gatesclip.mp3)from using it against illegal immigrant gang members.

In a hearing put off for six months by the council’s Public Safety Committee Chairman, Jack Weiss, the wannabe City Attorney, emotional statements flowed freely from the family of Jamiel Shaw Jr. — the South L.A. youth slain allegedly by a illegal immigrant gang member last spring — and others who wanted tougher law enforcement and those who defended Special Order 40 and how it’s being used.

Police Commission member Andrea Ortin, who was the U.S. Attorney for L.A. when Gates adopted Special Order 40 nearly 30 years ago, gave no ground in her defense of the policy or LAPD’s use of it.

LAPD officials took the same tack, conceding only that it was being  applied unevenly in different parts of the city by officers. Training is now under way so officers will understand that they are to report when they believe people arrested for felonies or multiple misdemeanors might be in the country illegally

They argued they aren’t authorized to enforce federal laws — a contention that was challenged by Councilman Dennis Zine who introducted a motion to stregthen Special Order back in April shortly after the murder of Jamiel Shaw Jr. .

Gates traced the reasons he adopted Special Order 40 to the failure of federal officials to collaborate in his efforts to crack down on gang activity. He said it was necessary to get illegal immigrants who were victims of crime or witnesses to cooperate with police. It was never intended to protect gang members who engaged in crime from immigration law enforcement

In the end, the committee decided to do nothing more than ask the LAPD to provide periodic reports on training of officers in Special Order 40 without suggesting any changes to it.

So nothing changed. The Shaw family will continue to try to qualify Jamiel’s Law for the ballot through the petition drive and the controversy over illegal immigration and the protection of the civil rights of all immigrants will continue.

The blood is on City Hall’s hands the next time an illegal immigrant gangster kills someone

Editor’s Note: The  City Council refused to take up the issue of the city’s failure to enforce the law against illegal immigrant gangbangers  for months and now says it will hold a hearing in October. If you want this issue addressed now, you should call, write or email your council member. Click here for the information you need to have your voice heard.

The long-standing constitutional limit on free speech is you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. The corollary to that is you have a moral imperative to warn people if you know there is an imminent danger.

That’s why we all must stand up now and demand City Hall do something about enforcing the law against known criminals who are in this country illegally.

Enforcing the LAPD’s Special Order 40 as it’s written is all that has to be done. As it is, the only provision consistently enforced is the don’t ask, don’t tell language that is used to effectively look the other way at all questions of immigration status.

It’s been more than five months since the senseless murder of high school athlete Jamiel Shaw Jr. allegedly by an illegal immigrant gangbanger released from jail the day before without the Sheriff’s Department holding him for deportation. Outside of domestic disputes, gangs are involved in most of the murders in L.A. and a significant portion of them could be stopped and the  terrorism that holds so many neighborhoods in the grip of fear reduced.

Yet, Councilman Jack Weiss — the man who has all but shined the mayor’s shoes for the last four years to get his support to be the city’s No.1 law enforcement officials — has refused to hold public hearings on Jamiel’s Law and the whole issue of criminal aliens.

Under presssure from last week’s protest at his Westside office organized by KABC talk show host Doug McIntyre, Weiss ran to Chief Bill Bratton to ask what he should do.

Bratton told him to wait two months when he’ll have a policy on gangs ready just in time to influence voters to support the proposed parcel tax — the single most regressive tax there is.

Obedient as always, Weiss agreed and the mayor and City Council are on side with him.

There will be blood on the streets between now and October from violence by illegal immigrant criminals and the blood will be — already is — on their hands.

The least anyone can do it is to email or call you own council office and demand that immediate hearings be held and the council put on record on the issue: Do they support illegal immigrant criminals living in our city or are they going to do something about it?