October 17, 2006

letter to the Editor of Lakewood Community News

This is a letter to the Editor of Lakewood Community News sent in response to John Kelly’s letter published in the October 2006 edition:

First let me point out that John Kelly is Vice President of Alabama based TNT Fireworks and apparently acts as a quasi lobbyist for TNT. In the last few years he has fought against proposed fireworks bans in Downey, Palmdale, Chino, Lawndale, Garden Grove, and Fontana, to name a few. The point being that those and other cities and their residents want to ban fireworks, like Lakewood, but the small number of pro-fireworks people who get “fireworks money” are better organized in their opposition due to their financial interests. At least in Lakewood the issue has made it on the ballot. Kelly and TNT also have a financial interest in the outcome of this election and he and/or his company (which has an unknown number of employees) stand to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars if fireworks are banned from Lakewood. He is counting on the so called Lakewood non- profit groups (fireworks sellers) to secure his retirement. So clearly he is not offering an objective viewpoint. Money tends to cloud the judgment of people, especially politicians. The Lakewood Accountability Action Group on the other hand has no financial interest in this election or fireworks, nor does it receive any financial support from any business or office holder. Kelly is not a Lakewood resident.

There is no question that the growth of illegal firework use has been greatest in cities which allow safe and sane fireworks. Why? Onelikely reason is that people are just not getting enough “bang for the buck” and so move up to illegal fireworks use from safe and sane. Or, as typical in most other male dominated activities, one neighbor has to outdo the other in an escalating war of illegal fireworks. The other problem is that this illegal use tends to spread across the boarders of neighboring cities that do not allow any fireworks use like Cerritos and Long Beach. Eliminating them in Lakewood would assist those cities’ enforcement efforts as well. Long Beach supports Lakewood banning fireworks altogether.

Ironically the illegal fireworks use in Lakewood cuts into the profits of TNT yet they have not offered to help the city with increased law enforcement which in effect boosts the sales of their legal product. Nor have any of the clubs benefiting from the July 2006 $100,000 increase in law enforcement costs come forward with any of their fireworks profits to lessen their burden on other taxpayers already suffering from the other negative effects.

John Kelly’s assertion that legal fireworks do not fly up in the air or explode assumes of course that users follow the law and don’t modify them or throw them, yet in the same letter he acknowledges that there are certain people intent on breaking the law. True, but that does not mean we should make it easier for people to break the law.

As far as legal fireworks masking illegal use, anyone that has driven around Lakewood during the 4th knows that with all the smoke, flashes, sparks and other commotion that legal fireworks make it is easy for law enforcement to miss illegal use. It can also result in more erroneous law enforcement calls by neighbors confused as to where the illegal use is occurring. In addition some users of illegal fireworks also use legal fireworks to act as a decoy for illegal use.

For more information visit the LAAG website and then vote yes on Measure “D”.

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