October 25, 2013

Swarming Helicopters over Lakewood 10/24/13

This is what we want to know. The Press Telegram article with the details is below (posted only about 15 hours late). The arrest was at 3:40 pm. Ok so far so good. Now there were at least two news helicopters (the high up hovering helicopters) and at least 2-3 low flying circling helicopters. One was black the other the green and gold Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) copter. The news helicopters left soon after the 3:40pm arrest, but the low flying helicopters did not stop circling until after 5pm. So if the arrest was at 3:40 pm (and that would seem correct based on the times below) why did the law enforcement helicopters keep circling for hours? Nothing else to do? Advertising to taxpayers what a great job LASD is doing keeping taxpayers safe from "felony" shoplifters on motorcycles? (I guess all the excessive force lawsuits in and out of the jails have made LASD over sensitive to this issue) Do taxpayers really need all these helicopters for an "accused" shoplifter? And this is not the first time helicopter hovering has been a problem. Just the first time we felt compelled to post something about it due to its excessiveness. I think LASD might as well just move to drones. At least they are quieter.

I guess the noise is only important to Westside and San Fernando Valley Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, as he did something about it.

As a follow up here is a small reminder why the risks of hovering over homes is outweighed by any marginal benefit in hour upon hour of hovering

Posted: 10/25/13, 6:43 AM PDT | http://www.presstelegram.com/general-news/20131025/irvine-motorcycle-chase-of-theft-suspect-hits-speeds-of-120-mph-ends-in-lakewood-arrest

A motorcycle rider suspected of stealing property who led law enforcement officers on a two-county chase at speeds up to 120 mph Thursday was arrested in Lakewood. California Highway Patrol officers picked up the pursuit about 3:15 p.m. on the San Diego (405) Freeway in Irvine, CHP Officer Denise Quesada said. Lt. Julia Engen said Irvine police were assisting Huntington Beach officers, who were investigating a series of property thefts that led them to the Irvine Spectrum shopping center. The motorcyclist aroused the suspicions of police officers, who tried to stop the suspect, Engen said. The pursuit continued through the streets of Irvine and back onto the San Diego Freeway to the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway toward Los Angeles County, Quesada said. An Orange County sheriff’s helicopter helped track the pursuit, because the rider was going so fast, Quesada said. At 3:40 p.m., Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in Lakewood arrested the suspect at 6038 Amos Ave., sheriff’s Lt. Martin Rodriguez said. The man, whose name was unavailable, was wanted for felony theft, Rodriguez said.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

July 5, 2013

Lakewood, CA Fireworks Report July 2013

It has been 7 years since the explosion on Dunrobin and apparently memories have faded for all the good reasons to sell fireworks in Lakewood (and all the neighboring co-conspiring cities):

1. To piss off all the people in Long Beach that thought they were safe from Lakewood's mania..

2. To ensure that slave labor children in India and China continue to be gainfully employed with full OSHA safety regulations protecting them..

3. To make sure safety is job 1

4. Fireworks never start fires in developed areas!....

5. To ensure that LA Sheriff's dept. employees get enough overtime to get that new boat..

6. To make sure our pets are patriotic as well.

Long ago we said that if "civic" clubs in Lakewood really wanted to raise some cash (for uniforms!?) they would sell pot. Quite frankly that is much less offensive, toxic and dangerous than fireworks. How many people a year are injured by Pot? (this is not an endorsement of Pot use by the way; we are just making a point). Lakewood might go for that as after all its for a good cause. What you're selling is really not that important if its for a good cause, right?

Seriously folks we would like to know what is spent on "special" fireworks enforcement and advertising each year versus the net profits the "civic" clubs make on these fireworks sales. I suspect they are close. So the city should just give the money to the clubs and call its a wash.

Patriotism is not found in Chinese fireworks. Sorry. We had to laugh at a neighbor down the street who (unwittingly) flies a faded flag night a day that is shredded to pieces. Is he patriotic? Veterans and Boy Scouts would say no. But by God he was out there supporting the troops with Chinese fireworks! Amazing. You want to be be patriotic Lakewood residents? There are about 42,000 of you registered to vote in the city and about 3,500 you vote for city council every 4 years (if we even have an election). That is sickening and pathetic. How about starting there. I am going to guess that very few lighting the fireworks in Lakewood voted in the last City Council election.

We can wait until the environmental agencies catch up and overtake the fireworks lobby which has lots of friends in Sacramento. After all who could be against the "essence of Patriotism". Didn't George Washington support fireworks? Let me check Fox News on that... Its like speaking out against NSA "wholesale spying" which keeps you "safe"! So America (Lakewood) light your fireworks and turn on your phone's tracking. Be a proud American. Lets not call them fireworks. Lets call them PatriotBombs! (oh on second thought maybe not...) lol...

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

May 21, 2013

US Supreme Court takes up issue of using prayers to open city council meetings

We have to say this has always been a pet peeve of ours among the many "practices", informal or otherwise, that Lakewood uses in its meetings. Hopefully this "practice" will soon go away as well. We have never understood why people insist on injecting their particular brand of religion into government. I say lets open with the pledge of allegiance (to the USA of course). That I support. But paying homage to one "brand" or "formulation" of religion? No thanks. Go to church and pray 12 times a week. Pray at home before the meeting. Pray to yourself before the meeting starts. Hell sit in a group in the audience and pray silently while holding hands up in the air. But don't make me have to sit there and listen to your version of a prayer recited in my face and sanctioned (hell even promoted) by the city council. And its televised no less (while public comments are not...hmm how convenient). This is nothing more than city council member pandering to their Christian religious bases (the same 2500 people that vote for them every time). The "open a government meeting with a prayer" routine is much more offensive and much more violative than prayer in schools as its literally the government itself promoting religion, directly and in your face, in conjunction with the governmental legislative process. This is why there are so many problems with the new governments in Egypt, Libya and Iraq; the "religious majority" wants to shut the religious minority out of a say in their own government altogether. Its a huge problem. Its why government needs to remain secular and religion should not become or "run" government. Also lets not get into the whole "religious history" of the founding fathers. Suffice it to say most did not practice "today's version of evangelical Christianity". But I'll leave that for the "revisionist" history writers.

The US Supreme Court petition will be argued later this year or early in 2014, with a ruling ready by the spring.

As was aptly stated abut this matter recently in the NY Times:

Legislative Prayer

The case concerning prayers, Town of Greece v. Galloway, No. 12-696, came from Greece, a town near Rochester. For more than a decade starting in 1999, the town board began its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.” Town officials said that members of all faiths and atheists were welcome to give the opening prayer. In practice, the federal appeals court in New York said, almost all of the chaplains were Christian. “A substantial majority of the prayers in the record contained uniquely Christian language,” Judge Guido Calabresi wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel of the court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. “Roughly two-thirds contained references to ‘Jesus Christ,’ ‘Jesus,’ ‘Your Son’ or the ‘Holy Spirit.'” Two town residents sued, saying the prayers ran afoul of the First Amendment’s prohibition of the government establishment of religion. The appeals court agreed. “The town’s prayer practice must be viewed as an endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint,” Judge Calabresi wrote.

In 1983, in Marsh v. Chambers, the Supreme Court upheld the Nebraska Legislature’s practice of opening its legislative sessions with an invocation from a paid Presbyterian minister, saying that such ceremonies were “deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country.” David Cortman, a lawyer for the town, said its practices were consistent with that tradition. “Americans today should be as free as the founders were to pray,” he said in a statement. “The founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.” (LAAG Editor: Perhaps (I was not there) but did they pray openly as an official start to the meeting or silently? Which religion? Also note this was BEFORE the first amendment was finalized and adopted and interpreted; perhaps the prayer gave them the inspiration to have the first amendment leave the prayer out?; also keep in mind these are the same guys that owned slaves yet wrote "...all men are created equal..." etc.) The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the group behind the lawsuit, said the Supreme Court should bar prayers in governmental settings like town meetings. “A town council meeting isn’t a church service, and it shouldn’t seem like one,” he said in a statement. “Government can’t serve everyone in the community when it endorses one faith over others. That sends the clear message that some are second-class citizens based on what they believe about religion.”

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

April 21, 2013

Boston Bombings demonstrate that all cities need to deploy city wide (emergency) wi fi

Given the fact that many people in Boston after the bombings last week were left without any way of communicating with loved ones due to either cell phone system overload (and or the now likely inaccurate rumor that the system was switched off for fear of it being used to trigger other bombs), it has become quite apparent that a realistic wi-fi strategy is needed so that people could at least text and or use social networking sites like twitter or facebook to stay in touch with loved ones (and emergency responders) after a catastrophe. In many cases with the right applications people with smartphones can also make calls on wifi using their smartphone. The point is the time has come for cities to take this issue seriously and get the ball rolling now well before our next disaster. LAAG is not the only one to call for this. We looked up "wi-fi" on the Lakewood website and as we figured there was absolutely nothing on the Lakewood website about it. We would be encouraged if we saw some minutes or agenda items on this but alas nothing.

The reason we are so disappointed is that Lakewood spends millions of taxpayer dollars on LASD stations being remodeled (and over $9 million a year for the services themselves) and we even spent tons of taxpayer dollars on an LASD "motor home" that is supposed to act as some sort of a command center in an emergency but is likely now just used at LASD picnics. The State, county and cities have also upgraded communications at all levels for first responders, but alas nothing for you little unimportant taxpayers. We also have one councilmember who is a high ranking LASD official and a new council member that works for Calif Emergency Management Agency (state version of FEMA) (Cal EMA's "mission" is to protect lives and property by effectively preparing for, preventing, responding to and recovering from all threats, crimes, hazards, and emergencies.") So one would think that they had thought of the wifi issue. But alas no sign of such thoughts. Isn't this what we pay these people (very well) for? To think about things like disasters? God knows they heap enough praise, taxpayer money and telecommunications equipment on LASD regarding these "issues". I think its time for Lakewood city council think about the rest of us who likely will need to rely on (communicating with) loved ones to get us through a disaster (like a large earthquake). And there are many ways to get this done.

So its time to get moving on this now! And yes Lakewood has the money! We just spent $750,000.00 (you read right) to resurface the Lakewood swimming pool! (only one bid by the way..so much for competitive bidding!)

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

March 8, 2013

Last Chance to Protest the Los Angeles County Clean Water, Clean Beaches hearing March 12, 2013

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will hear comments on the proposed Clean Water, Clean Beaches Measure on Tuesday, March 12, at 9:30am. The hearing will take place during the Board's regular meeting in the Board Hearing Room at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 West Temple St. Los Angeles, 90012. The Board meeting will be webcast live via the LA County website at www.LACounty.info. Requests to address the Board on this item must be submitted in person to the Executive Officer of the Board prior to the item being called.

 If you live in Knabe's district just email their office before the hearing and they will likely make sure you end up on the speakers list; or better yet just email your written protest to their office (AskDon@lacbos.org) and WQFI.Info@dpw.lacounty.gov as well as the scanned form available here. Actually all you need to do is send in that scanned form to effectively register your protest vote. To be counted, protest forms must be received by the end of the public hearing period on March 12 and include the parcel's site address, Assessor's Parcel Number, the name of the parcel owner, as well as the signature of the parcel owner or an authorized representative. Only scanned or photographed email protests with a handwritten signature will be accepted.

This is likely your last chance. The Board is likely going to "punt" at this hearing and make a decision on what to do with this mess that LA County Dept of Public Works dumped in their lap. The "no" votes are still no where near the 50% of all parcels needed to stop this under the very poorly drafted Proposition 218 (Its quite frankly amazing that the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn drafted 218 with such horrible anti taxpayer provisions) Really the only way this can be stopped at this point is for the Board to do away with the attempt to use the Prop. 218 method of "voting" and put this to a general election. Otherwise the taxpayers have no chance. Very sad day for LA County Taxpayers. We are about to get fleeced so get your wallets ready. This is actually worse than the FEMA imposed flood insurance mandates (that heavily hit residents in Lakewood and Long Beach) in the early 1990's. That flood insurance mandate only affected 1/10th of the residents this new measure will affect. And the FEMA insurance deal was temporary. This new tax will last forever.

For more on Prop 218 and the rest of this saga read our prior post

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email