September 18, 2007

Fundraising Trumps All

These cities will never give into the smoke and fire peddlers and the groups that pander to them. AS LAAG has already demonstrated using LA Co. Fire Dept statistics, legal fireworks increases the use of illegal fireworks. So the issue is simple. Outlaw all personal fireworks and help the booster groups get money some other way as we have outlined over and over again.

Monday, September 17, 2007
Garden Grove to revisit fireworks after tragedy
City Council plans to talk about putting ban on November 2008 ballot.
The Orange County Register

GARDEN GROVE – Joshua Matua had just started to doze off the night of July 4 when a lighted skyrocket landed on his house's shake roof.

It all happened very quickly after that. Black smoke billowed and orange flames shot skyward.

Matua and his friend, who owns the house on Mac Street, were the only ones in the house that night. Matua's girlfriend and 5-month-old son were not there, he said.

The four-bedroom house was a total loss and is uninhabitable. Matua and his family lost all of their possessions and moved to a studio apartment in Westminster.

“It's very hard,” said Matua, 37, manager of a sports bar in Anaheim. “I cry every day partly because of how my life has changed, but also because me and my friends had so many memories in that house.”

The local AARP chapter, which has been vocal in its opposition of fireworks, will host a fundraiser today for Matua and his family at the Community Meeting Center. Garden Grove is one of five Orange County cities that allow state-designated “safe and sane” fireworks during the Independence Day holiday. Proceeds from the White Elephant Sale will go toward helping Matua and his friend rebuild the house and help Matua's family buy everyday items such as clothes to baby necessities.

In the meantime, Garden Grove council members say the July 4 fire has prompted them to reconsider putting a fireworks ban on the November 2008 ballot.

For years, the issue has divided the community into those who want to do away with fireworks altogether and the booster clubs and nonprofits that want to raise money for their respective causes through the sale of fireworks – a big moneymaker for these groups.

Those who support fireworks say problems such as fires and injuries are usually caused by illegal fireworks, not the legal ones they sell at the stands.

A majority of the City Council has always supported keeping fireworks in Garden Grove, although council members this year imposed $1,000 fines on those shooting off illegal fireworks.

Councilman Mark Rosen said the July 4 incident doesn't change his view on fireworks.

“But it's a tremendous tragedy for this family and something that happened as a direct result of fireworks,” he said. “I think the time has come for our residents to have a say on the matter.”

A motion last year by former Councilman Harry Krebs to put the issue on the ballot fizzled.

Sharon Tanihara, a Garden Grove resident and AARP member, said she has been coming to council meetings to protest fireworks for the last four years because she was afraid of people losing their homes or their lives in fireworks-related fires. “Our benefit for the Matua family will hopefully help raise awareness in the community about fireworks and why they should be banned,” she said.

Meanwhile, Matua says it's going to take at least a year to fix up the burned house. Walking through the barely standing structure, Matua sighed as he looked at loose wires hanging from the ceiling, hardwood floors blackened by ash and soot and a murky pool, which had been the site of many a party and barbecue.

“I ran out with the clothes on my back,” he said, glancing at the borrowed shoes he still wears. “All my possessions are gone. But I'm thankful I still have the people I love.”

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | | Lakewood, CA
A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™

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