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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Questions Still Swirl Around Griffith Fire

Tomorrow is the 1-year anniversary of the devastating Griffith Park fire. One of the largest fires in the long history of a historic park is rumored to have been started by an off-duty Camp LeJeune marine who fell asleep with a cigarette in hand sometime in the early afternoon. One year on, no one has ever been charged with starting the fire, and details about this individual and why they were in the park in the first place are limited. In fact, in reviewing the fire and the resulting goings-on since that fateful afternoon, there are still a whole lot of questions that remain unanswered.

To mark the historic occasion, it probably goes without saying that the Autocrat of Griffith Park will be holding court. Tom LeBong and his ongoing obsession with the LAFD takes over the Greek Theatre parking area at 10AM Thursday so he can ask everyone on City time about the high school they attended. Various City officials will be forced to make appearances. Rec and Parks General Manager Jon Mukri is one of the lucky ones performing at the Autocrat’s bidding tomorrow instead of running his department.

Hey Jon M,

Q: While Griffith Park was under full closure post-fire, why was Sunset Stables allowed to conduct business in the park while other rental stables surrounding the park were banned?

Q: Why wasn't the investigation of such a high profile fire handled by LAFD or LAPD instead of the Office of Public Safety?

Along with LAFD Chief Barry, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be there to honor the dedicated firefighters who worked the blaze. This includes the Los Angeles City Park Rangers whose unit the Mayor already showed his appreciation for by slashing them in half with a swipe of his pen a few weeks ago.

Hey Tony,

Q: What happened to your promise of a fully staffed and equipped Park Ranger Division?

Q: Why did you make Recreation and Parks pay millions of dollars from their budget toward the cost of fire recovery when the funds should have come from the City's emergency contingency account?

Obviously missing from tomorrow's festivities will be our exalted Governator whose caring concern for the disaster graced the front pages of every fishwrap in town.

Q: Hey Arnie, what happened to that $50 million you promised Recreation and Parks? Wouldn’t this have made a huge difference in Rec and Parks' financial situation now?

And finally -

Hey Councilman LeBong,

Q: Why were you regularly leading private parties off-trail in the environmentally sensitive burn areas when the areas were closed?

Q: Why was a single exclusive group of some of your biggest financial supporters given the honor of being the first ‘community group’ to help restore Griffith Park and why was it kept secret from the public until after the fact?

Q: Why did you tell anyone who would listen that 'hydromulch doesn’t work' when six decades of good data shows otherwise?

Q: Why did you push for a curb-to-curb smoking ban in tinder-dry Los Angeles parks, then undermine the law at the 12th hour by making exceptions of golf courses and events venues like the Greek Theatre?

Q: Why are you holding ‘Park Restoration’ community group events that plant tree after tree after tree in a Chaparral - not Forest - ecosystem?

Q: Why have your groups been allowed to plant non-natives in a native ecosystem?

Q: Why are your aides telling members of the public things like ‘wild cucumber is invasive and needs to be ripped out from the burn area’? (Wild cucumber is decidedly native.)

Q: Why are you pushing for yet another non-native, manufactured artificial ‘garden’ to be named in honor of one of Los Angeles’ 20-plus “Sister Cities” to be built in the natural wilderness portion of the burn area and that will be preferentially managed by more of your big financial supporters?

So many questions, so few answers.

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Anonymous Anonymous said:

None of us will be around forever, so the best can hope for a lasting monument is that we have been a good steward of those things under our care.

Politicians, on the other hand, can one way or another get their name on a plaque, a park, a building, an overpass, or some monstrosity like the the plan to develop the park without having to worry about good stewardship.

They can't even keep the current facilities in the park maintained and adding new ones to please his financial supporters won't help those issues.....

May 07, 2008 2:47 PM  

Blogger Kim said:

And why after more than 1000 community members signed a petition (see link below) in favor have no efforts been made to bring in goats for dry brush clearance? Goats are an ecological, affordable and effective solution.


May 07, 2008 3:40 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

There was a news story just yesterday about goats clearing brush near the Getty Museum.

That goes to show you the differences between the westside and the Griffith Park area. Advocacy / no advocacy.

We elected these fools. Tough crap on anyone who complains about bad leadership now.

May 07, 2008 3:55 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Too bad none of the questions will ever get answered by those responsible. It must be nice to be in the postion the Mayor, the Governor and the Council Members are in. You never have to answer for your actions. The only repercusions are to be voted out of office. But it sure is easier to stay in office when you aren't held accountable for your actions or performance.

May 07, 2008 4:36 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I don't think it would have been a good use of money or time to prosecute some Marine who accidentally lit the fire, if true -- getting smoking banned is enough.

But LaBonge is stupid like a Fox -- he IS dumb when it comes to "book learnin'" as he admits, but he's got people giving him money, using the park as a prop, he's got money for Sister Cities projects, and he's had a chance to travel the world on their and taxpayer dime, whereas he's never been anywhere.

He and Janice Hahn with her "born again" act, left=wing Robin Hood, tax the "rich" (i.e., struggling middle class too) and business to give to the "poor" (like the illegals who work at LAX area hotels) -- are as bad as the Mexicans, just not as transparent.

May 07, 2008 4:47 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

I haven't been back since the fire. Which trails have re-opened?

May 07, 2008 8:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

None you can do business on (:

May 07, 2008 10:53 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Can you imagine how those firefighters feel having to be used like props for the dried up raisin gang banger cholo Mayor? they hate it as do anyone else who is told to be there for the Mayor. They can't stand him because he cut their budget but the Cholo Mayor needs people to look as if he has done something. Antonio should just throw in the towel cause he has become the joke of the nation. He will never be re elected thank god

May 08, 2008 6:52 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

All official trails in Griffith Park are open.

It's been City policy all along that going "off-trail" is not allowed since it damages sensitive plants and animal habitat, and creates erosion. This is being heavily enforced in the fire recovery area for obvious reasons.

I have no idea why 10:53 would say otherwise re trails unless:
1. they using a public park for something illegal like lewd conduct. (Get a hotel room like everyone else, Asshole.) or 2. they're one of the scofflaws running around machete-ing their own illegal paths wherever the hell they want. Morons who think they can treat Griffith as their private property, and in some cases are even using a public park to make a living as 'extreme' hikers or personal trainers. These **ckers know who they are.

If that is you, 10:53, TAKE A **cking HIKE SOMEWHERE ELSE before one of those machetes finds its way back to you in a manner you won't particularly enjoy.

May 08, 2008 7:41 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Guess no one ever told you that Griffith Park is LaBonge's park, not the people's park.

May 08, 2008 8:40 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

These comment are some I made in response to Joe Mailander's musings about Griffith Park one year later. They're relevant, so I include them here.

Disclaimer -- I do NOT work for RAP. I do not work for the City. I am not suing the City. I am not dating the mayor. I am not an animal rights activist. I do have a background in environmental science. I have been employed as an environmental specialist by a state agency and I have taught the subject at college level.

Okay, my 1/50 of a dollar follows.

First and foremost - Griffith Park will never be the same. It can't be. You cannot recreate half a century of history since the last burn in such minutae as to reproduce what was there before. Besides, we know a hell of a lot more about environmental management now than we did at the time the area last burned significantly.

RAP wouldn't have done due diligence if they hadn't stabilized the hills above Los Feliz. There are a number of choices on how to do this. Hydromulch was the least expensive and least invasive.

As for mulching as a practice, I grew up in a part of the country where hydromulch (and hydroseed) is a frequent and necessary way of life. We have slopes, and lots and lots of rain in my old stomping grounds. Hydromulch is a proven hillside stabilizer and isn't really invasive. So Joe, please explain what you don't understand about it.

[If it's the cost of applying the mulch, talk to the damn contractor.]

BMPs of the US Forest Service and Parks Service call for allowing natural habitat to regenerate itself after a fire. That's why the area is being mainly left to do so. So far, Mother Nature looks to be on a good course to recovery. Some assistance is being given in the form of invasive plant removal by the department with the help of community volunteers.

[If anyone would like to volunteer to assist in this, I will put the info up later today.]

As for why brush isn't cleared around the trails -- a couple of reasons. One is that RAP has a contractor cut proper clearance yearly. Point in fact -- while in the park yesterday, I noted the telltale signs that the annual fireroad brush clearance has begun. I'd guess the burn area will be back in this year's contract, so it is just a matter of time until your favorite trail is trimmed.

As for allowing the people who love the park to restore it, that is exactly what Tom LaBonge lives for. He's drooling just thinking about the very idea.

LaBonge controls much of what the community is allowed to do and think in the park. Know that his vision for Griffith is DISNEYANA cum CENTRAL PARK. Walt Disney is his hero. LaBonge is the guy who forced TWO, count 'em TWO funiculars and a pleasure pier into the 1st draft of the Griffith Park Master Plan. So the non-native plants, the systematic forestation of a chapparal ecosystem, the use of the place as his own personal playground for his private parties... these are the things he has still managed to force past the Department with the strict fire policies that are now in place.

LaBonge's lust for shiny objects with his personal stamp or his financial backers' stamps on them is endless. I cannot imagine what your favorite trail would look like if LaBonge's version of the community was cut loose on the park.

May 08, 2008 8:42 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Here's the information for volunteers to assist RAP with invasive plant removal.

This is a serious call to action, but requires only the time you are able/willing to give. See below -- this request has gone out to every Neighborhood Council in Los Angeles, as they are finding that state and city budget cuts are SIGNIFICANTLY hampering the efforts to restore and revive Griffith Park after the devasting fires.

Griffith Park's Wildlife Need Your Help!

Griffith Park Burn Area Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project

Please join in the effort to help Griffith Park recover from the fire. Volunteers are needed for habitat restoration.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays this Spring, volunteers will be removing invasive plants that are quickly overgrowing the burn area. These invasive plants are competing with the native plants for light, water, and nutrients. The wildlife of Griffith Park need you to help the native plants that provide their food, water, and shelter.

We will begin with a training about native and non-native plants in Griffith Park, so don't be late! If you have them, please bring your own gloves and/or pruners. A limited supply of gloves tools will be available (most work can be easily done by hand). Please make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and sturdy, closed-toed shoes.

You may also need sunglasses, sunblock, and a hat. For more information, or to arrange specific times, dates, parking, etc...

Please contact:
Andrea Epstein, Volunteer Coordinator
Department of Recreation and Parks
Email: andrea.epstein@lacity.org
Tel: 213.928.9290

Thank you for partnering with Los Angeles City, Department of Recreation and Parks, in our mission to enrich the lives of the citizens of Los Angeles by providing safe, welcoming parks and recreation facilities and affordable, diverse recreation and hman services activities for people of all ages to play, learn, contemplate, build community and be good stewards of our environment.

School teachers (6th grade and up) are encouraged to volunteer with their classes and can contact their regular transportation providers for free or reduced school-day-use of their school buses for this service learning field trip.

May 08, 2008 8:58 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Here's a question for Dopey Dildock Tom LaBonge...why is he pushing for a $40 million (which will no doubt balloon in the future) elephant exhibit when the TREND is to finally let these beautiful creatures live their lives in peace at a sanctuary? Why is he such a bloviating retard to go against the elephants and the people? Why use that money, which could be spent on saving some city jobs that MATTER, on imprisoning elephants? Lastly, why doesn't Tom LaBonge take a jump off the HOllywood sign and do us all a HUGE favor?

May 08, 2008 5:09 PM  

Blogger Gimme Shelter said:

5:09 I agree. Elephants don't belong at the LA Zoo. Check out www.elephants.com to see a beautiful sanctuary in Tennessee that rescues these animals from circuses and ZOOS.

May 10, 2008 9:47 AM  

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