December 13, 2007

Inviting the fox into the hen house

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Oh man...we saw this coming. This is really simple for the fireworks peddlers. Just make sure you pack the "citizen task force" with people biased (secretly or not) in your favor. Fortunately here they dont have a majority but that is only members who have announced their biases (and were put forward by the Fireworks industry) This is a loose loose situation. Fireworks companies preach education just like the cigarette companies. LAAG has seen from Fire Department studies that eliminating all fireworks (legal and illegal) has the effect of making enforcement easier and actually decreases the use of illegal fireworks. Anytime the fireworks industry is suggesting that people put their faith in some recently passed legislation (such as senate bill 839) you can be sure that that industry had a lot to do with its crafting via lobbyists and other "persuasive individuals" and methods. Senate bill 839 is worthless and is just another unproven unfunded mandate used as window dressing by the fireworks industry in an attempt to put further pressure on out of state sellers already stealing CA peddlers "safe and sane" business.

New citizen task force focuses on fireworks
Article Launched: 12/12/2007 01:13:07 PM PST

Fireworks and Pacifica. Legal and illegal. Just what should the relationship between pyrotechnics and the community be?

That's going to be the fiery question for a newly formed citizen task force recently established by the Pacifica City Council.

Task Force members appointed are Deborah Joves, Dr. Kimberly Conner, Julie Hartsell (who is a PB&R commissioner), Bernie Sifry, Bill Gray (TN football coach), Jeanne Matysiak, Allen Hale and Lionel Emde.

The mission of the task force is to research options for dealing with the ongoing problem of illegal fireworks that violators manage to set off each July 4 holiday under cover of darkness and obscured by the smoke and hubbub of safe and sane or legal fireworks.

It's an explosive problem to be sure -- how to put a cap on illegal bottle rockets and M-80s that cause mayhem in neighborhoods, yet not penalize those who enjoy safe and sane fireworks that are an old-fashioned tradition in Pacifica and fund sports and other programs for thousands of kids.

Police Chief Jim Saunders said he hand-picked a task force that hopefully reflects a full spectrum of interests. "Their purpose is to provide options for council," he said when the matter came before council late last month.

Task Force's direction is that there is no direction. They need to research and provide options," he said.

The only citizens who spoke were concerned about a brief reference to banning all fireworks in Saunders' staff report. As sports group boosters, they were concerned that would be the ultimate outcome of any task force recommendation.

One speaker said she was concerned the task force was a "back door" way of starting a ban on all fireworks.

TNT Fireworks spokesman Dennis Revell
also voiced a similar concern. He said the city should be focusing on a senate bill, 839, recently signed by the governor, which will throw more manpower and resources toward stopping the suppliers of illegal fireworks from bringing them over the border into California or selling them on the Internet in the first place. He also suggested the public education was another key to helping solve the problem.

Saunders said the council and community should not be fixated on the word "ban" in his staff report, noting that he was simply trying to open the door for full discussion of all options.

"At least three members of the task force were proposed by the fireworks company. We tried to make it a mixed group. Frankly, I'm open to anything. I wanted to leave it as open as possible, not leaning one way or another," Saunders said.

The chief's report also mentioned other options such as limiting the times that fireworks may be ignited or possibly limiting the locations that fireworks can be used in the city.

"This is not a complete list of options but only a few a council left up to the task force to research and provide direction to council," Saunders' staff report reads.

"The idea is not to limit the task force, but a ban is not the direction we're going," said Mayor Pete DeJarnatt.

There was some further discussion among council members about defining the task force's options, including an emphasis on enforcement, but the majority consensus ultimately was to leave all options open for research and discussion.

Chief Saunder said although the task force might well come up with an alternative funding source to replace the sale of safe and sane fireworks -- an "ah-ha" type solution," he also said he understands that a ban on fireworks is clearly not the direction the council is going.

"I'm anticipating there will be nine or ten options, but will make it clear that the council is not interested in a ban so that option better be at the bottom of the list," he said.

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

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