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DEEGAN ON LA-Now that we’ve had two years of announcements, promises, photo-ops, budget proposals, ballot measures and votes all aimed at improving the plight of people with homelessness, have you noticed less homeless people on the streets? Or does it look like more of the same…or worse? The answer may be a little bit of both: there’s been some looks-good-on-paper progress, but not much visual progress. And since visuals track more closely with the truth, this is not very encouraging.
Let’s start with the sobering statistic that the city’s homeless count of just over 34,000 was up 20% from 2016, according to a May 30, 2017 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Report.
If you add in the county’s numbers, the homeless population rose 23% in the year. Once a cheerleader for progress on the homeless issue, Mayor Eric Garcetti could only say, “There's no sugarcoating the bad news.” That’s a huge turnaround for a civic leader who promised from the steps of City Hall two years ago that there would be $100 million dedicated to solving the homeless crisis.
As things turned out, that was a press release, not a fact. Garcetti’s next announcement was a $138 million allocation for the homeless in his recent budget, but that also under-delivered with lots of finger-pointing as to why.
So, what are the facts? Ultimately, Bond Measure HHH providing $1.2 billion for housing the homeless was placed on the November 2016 ballot and was approved by 77% of the voters, a strong indication that people want a solution and are willing to pay for it. Property owners will pay an annual tax of around $33 per year for ten years. This will help finance the construction of 10,000 units of affordable permanent-supportive housing over the next ten years.
That’s where the paperwork part of the problem looks good -- which is a great start -- but the upstream to completion will take years. Who knows how many more homeless will appear on our streets in the meantime? Will that negate the effects of a billion-dollar housing program designed to house only 10,000 homeless people? It’s possible that this effort will become part of Los Angeles’ mythology: our version of the Greek myth of Sisyphus who was forced by the gods to roll a huge boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down over and over again each time he neared completing his never-ending task. Like him, we may be pushing the homeless rock up the hill forever. Our enviable climate and easygoing lifestyle make Los Angeles a magnet for many, including the homeless.
It’s not only about the City of Los Angeles: the homeless problem is evident in other cities like West Hollywood where plans are driven less by economics -- they show no signs of throwing lots of money at the problem -- and more by solutions provided by city government, particularly the public safety component.
Their strategies are reminiscent of how the British defeated the Spanish Armada which sent its wind-driven warships into the English Channel in 1588 to invade Britain. The British responded with smaller craft, often oar-powered for mobility, so they could maneuver around the bigger ships without relying on wind strength and direction, eventually defeating the Spanish. The moral of that war story was “be nimble.” Perhaps our WEHO neighbors have something to offer for helping the homeless. Online news source WEHOville.com had a four-part series on the homeless last week about how they are tackling the homeless problem.
The WeHo plan includes contracted-out substance abuse treatment, information sharing on outreach efforts and homeless services by the Sheriffs who attend homeless-related meetings with everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to Neighborhood Watch meetings. In addition, there are public speaking appearances by City staff members, the Mayor and Sheriff’s Captain; block captain training, including how to deal with the homeless, is provided by the Sheriff’s department. None of this required a bond issue.
Is LA “too big” to succeed at solving its homeless problem? Are we the “Spanish Armada” versus the “British Small Boats” of West Hollywood?
Adding some urgency to the problem is the announcement a few days ago by Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA County Public Health Director, at the weekly meeting of the LA County Board of Supervisors that LA is experiencing an outbreak of Hepatitis A. Recently the same outbreak occurred in San Diego, hitting the homeless population hard; a similar outbreak was also reported in Santa Cruz.
Michael Weinstein, president of AHF (Aids Healthcare Foundation), responded, “This declaration must be followed with immediate and forceful actions: portable toilets and hand-washing stations should be deployed immediately and the City of Los Angeles should put an immediate halt to rousting homeless encampments and concentrate instead on improving overall sanitary conditions…This outbreak is a result of, and is likely to be further fueled by the deplorable living conditions of homeless populations in Los Angeles.”
So, now a potential public health hazard has been added into the mix of the overall homelessness issue. Something more tangible and immediate than the prospect of a billion-dollar housing plan over ten years reminds us that microbes, not money, may be where the attention should go. Will bleaching the sidewalks of homeless tent encampments be next? The homeless do not even have the dignity of public restrooms yet, but the looming Hepatitis A problem -- a hazard for everyone -- may accelerate the decision to provide them.
What do you think: are we on the right track for finding solutions for people with homelessness?
Please take a moment and share your opinion about these issues by taking the brief poll below and press “view” to see how your responses compare with others.
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(Tim Deegan is a long-time resident and community leader in the Miracle Mile, who has served as board chair at the Mid City West Community Council and on the board of the Miracle Mile Civic Coalition. Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Photo credit: WEHOville.com
Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
PERSPECTIVE--September 14, 2017. That was the day that conservative columnist and commentator, Ann Coulter, disclosed a dramatic change of heart. She, it will be recalled, was one of DJT’s early and ardent supporters when he was running for office and, subsequently, elected.
THIS IS WHAT I KNOW--When Donald Trump fired off his first missile Friday night at one of his populist rallies in Alabama, he started a war with not only Stephen Curry, the two-time MVP for the Golden State Warriors but the NBA, NFL, and Major League Baseball. (Photo above: President railing against the NFL and Puerto Rico hurricane surviver.)
NEW GEOGRAPHY--When Donald Trump was elected president, much of American Jewish leadership reacted with something close to hysteria. To some, Trump’s presidency reflected the traditional face of the anti-Semitic right — xenophobic, nationalist and culturally conservative.
JUST ASKIN’-County Supervisor Kuehl has decided unilaterally that an alcohol center should be opened in West LA – something that both Culver City and Venice rejected for their communities.
PROPUBLICA REPORT-California regulators said they have required Nationwide and USAA to adjust their auto insurance rates as a result of a report by ProPublica and Consumer Reports that many minority neighborhoods were paying more than white areas with the same risk.
LA WATCHDOG--On April 20, slightly less than seven months from now, Mayor Eric Garcetti will submit his proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 to the City Council for its consideration. While the Budget and Finance Committee will hold hearings over the following weeks, the budget is already a done deal, having been negotiated behind closed doors between the Mayor and City Council with input from the leaders of the City’s unions.
GELFAND’S WORLD--It will be a fine spring day in the year 2023 when Los Angeles achieves earthquake survivability. That's because the owners of approximately 13,500 properties were given 7 years (starting March 3, 2016) to upgrade buildings that are the most dangerous in earthquakes. We're talking mostly about those apartment buildings in which the first level of apartments are built above garage spaces which are only held up by thin poles or other inadequate support.
THE PREVEN REPORT--It's against the law not to pay fuel excise taxes, but that’s exactly what the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office did for years, according to the LA County Auditor-Controller's January 2016 report on the "Voyager" Charge Card program. To date there’s been not a single disciplinary action taken over the matter, even though everyday residents of Los Angeles are prosecuted all the time for less serious violations of the law. The Auditor-Controller writes:
TRUMP WATCH--No less than authority than Senator Lindsey Graham himself has told us that America is on a "march to single payer." He said over and over this last week that if his scam of a bill did not pass, which it will not thanks to your voices speaking out, that single payer was inevitable.
GUEST COMMENTARY-Imagine the following: A candidate for elected office in California says to donors and voters that, if elected, he will innovate state services so they are as consumer-friendly and digitally-available as, say, Apple’s services. But the candidate also seeks the political support of government employees (e.g. school district and DMV employees) for whom such innovation would likely mean fewer jobs and stricter performance measures. Given that government employees are the largest contributors to political campaigns in California, what do you think the candidate, if elected, will actually do? The answer: Not innovate.
LEANING RIGHT--Lots of us hate what the Orange Man says, does, tweets, or proposes...but there ARE a few things that many (maybe most) Americans hate even more than our President. Some of these things include North Korea, ISIS, gangbangers, human traffickers ... and ... oh yeah:
URBAN PERSPECTIVE-Just in case you thought that Trump went way off the reservation in virtually calling former San Francisco Quarterback Colin Kaepernick an SOB to loud crowd hoots at a campaign rally for Alabama Senate Republican candidate Luther Strange, he didn’t. The truth is that Trump has kept a vengeful close eye on the Kap-NFL debacle from day one. Last March at a post victory rally in Louisville, Trump commanded NFL owners not to even think about bringing him back into the league. To quote, “they don't want to get a nasty tweet from Donald Trump.”
ANIMAL WATCH-Animal activists and crime-ravaged communities reporting rampant animal neglect and abuse, cheered when the long-sought Los Angeles Police Department's Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) was formed in 2005 to address felony crimes against animals, including dog fighting and cockfighting. The motion was introduced by now-Congressman Tony Cardenas and seconded by current Secretary of State Alex Padilla, while both served on the City Council, and was approved on May 13, 2005.
EASTSIDER-Whatever happened to staid old CalPERS and its ho-hum “under the radar” elections? Evidently a lot. The contested election currently underway is exposing some serious fracture lines in the way they run those elections!
COUNTER PUNCH-After watching Episodes One and Two of the Burns and Novick Vietnam War series, I am reminded of the old adage asserting a valuable point for students of history: the class that controls the means of material production controls also the means of mental production. Listening to the narrator scroll through the list of financial sponsors cautioned me to lower my expectations that the series would break away from the predictable liberal narrative that has been dominant in discussions about the Vietnam War.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is launching a series of workshops to help improve understanding of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections and immigration relief in general.
NORTH HILLS WEST NC--Today at around 9:30 AM three persons were spotted in our neighborhood. Neighborhood being (Kinzie, Swinton, Frankirst, Itasca, Valjean, and Sophia).
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Residents in the area bordered by Hauser on the west, West Blvd. on the east, Washington on the North, and the 10 Freeway on the south have had a dream come true. They have successfully secured the name Mid-City Heights for their community.
THE CHAPMAN REPORT--“Remember when we had all that fun here and we went to Ports O’ Call?” my sister recalled recently at one of our very last dinners at our cozy San Pedro house. “Remember we watched the boat parade and had drinks over at the Oyster Wharf? Remember? “We used to have so much fun in San Pedro.”
GELFAND’S WORLD--There have been a lot of songs and stories about the early days of Hollywood, but what about before Hollywood was Hollywood -- when it was still the wild west? What about the original cast of characters -- the real characters, not the ones on screen -- people who were by parts murderous, playful, scheming, loving, and thieving? In today's account, we are interested in the people who populated the area to the west of Western and to the north of Wilshire. There is a clue to our story in the name Eugenio Plummer, after whom Plummer Park in West Hollywood is named.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS-- While many Americans across the country are speaking out against the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia recently for being racists, here in Downtown Los Angeles people are spewing their own dislike for and opposition to white supremacy.
SPECIAL REPORT—(Editor’s Note: Legal Marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. As you are aware, medical marijuana is legal in California and beginning next January, recreational marijuana will be legal in the Golden State as well. This the first of a number of CityWatch reports on the politics and business of this industry.) When Mona Zhang told her parents she wanted to leave her job to report full-time on cannabis and build up her newsletter, Word on the Tree, they were skeptical to say the least.
CORRUPTION WATCH-Unlike many taxes, the Wall Street tax gets us taxpayers nothing in return. We do not get sewers or streets or parks or police or paramedics. Each month, millions of Angelenos cough up anywhere from $500 to $4,000 for the Wall Street tax. No one has taken the time to calculate the exact amount of it, but we know that newcomers pay a higher tax than Angelenos who are long-time residents. The Wall Street tax is the extra rent or mortgage Angelenos pay each month for housing costs over and above the fair market value. One way or another, our rent and mortgage payments end up on Wall Street.
UNDERFUNDED LIABILITY-A recently completed actuarial report shows that Los Angeles County has over $25 billion in unfunded retiree healthcare liabilities — and this constitutes the greatest threat to the county’s long term fiscal sustainability. LA County’s Other Postemployment Benefit (OPEB) unfunded liability turns out to be greater than its unfunded pension liability.
BELL VIEW--Yesterday, a memory popped up on my Facebook feed from eight years ago. In 2009, the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council took part in a citywide event known as "Parking Day LA." The event began in 2005 in San Francisco as an effort to draw attention to the lack of public space in major cities. Admittedly, the event is a bit precious. A bunch of hipsters get together and make a temporary “park” out of a metered parking space.
THE ISENBERG FILE--"When you see something that's wrong, eventually you have to do something about it." -- Rosa Parks, quoted from Reverend Barber's book, “The Third Reconstruction.”
GETTING THE NUMBERS RIGHT-How many times can a city reach four million population for the first time? I submit that Los Angeles (my birthplace), now near its fourth such celebration, is the undisputed champion, with each of the first three having not actually been reached.
GUEST WORDS-“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” This single, sinister question, asked over a sepulchral-sounding musical score, was rhetorical; for after a dramatic pause and a malevolent cackle, the narrator smugly informed the audience: “The Shadow knows.”
ANALYSIS--“It was the wrong speech, at the wrong time, to the wrong audience,” Swedish foreign Minister Margot Wallström expressed about what global and U.S. audiences helplessly had to endure during President Donald Trump’s September 19, 2017 address to the United Nations General Assembly. President Trump acted like a bully, but unaware that he showed up at the wrong playground.
EPPERHART EXPRESS--I’m not a great fan of bumper stickers, license plate frames and other means using one’s vehicle to share. I don’t care who you voted for, how many stick figures are in your family, or what you (heart). But, recently I was struck by a red, white, and blue sticker pasted across the rear window of a car in front of me. It said, “Not a Republican.”
AMINALS MATTER--If a wrong-headed Assembly proposal passes the state Senate and is signed into law, Californians will surrender the freedom to select the pet of their choice.
AT LENGTH-I have a long standing, if not ingrained interest in free speech. This fundamental right is essential to the very enterprise of running a newspaper. One might call it enlightened self-interest.
PERSPECTIVE-The current controversy over whether to dismantle statues of some prominent Confederate figures is a battle over whom we admire and consider as heroes. It is also a battle over who has power to shape how we view our history.
LA WATCHDOG--On September 13, Controller Ron Galperin released a first ever Report Card for our Department of Recreation and Parks. It was based on interviews by consultants with over 3,700 park using Angelenos and onsite reviews of 40 of our 95 community parks. (Photo above: Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin announces Rec & Parks Report Card.)
Overall, these 40 community parks received a grade of B (an 86) based on the equal weighting of 12 measurements. But this hides the fact that many Angelenos are concerned about their safety in the parks (46%) and the poorly maintained bathrooms (37%), especially in three of the five surveyed areas.
Of the 40 parks that were surveyed, 16 (40%) received a D on the restroom maintenance. But that percentage leaped to 57% (16 of the 28 parks) for the East San Fernando Valley, Metropolitan, and South LA / Harbor Areas. On the other hand, the West San Fernando and Westside Areas had no failing restrooms and had an overall of grade of a B on restrooms.
One the underlying reasons for the lack of safety and the foul restrooms is that the Department’s budget has been decimated by City Hall.
Under the City’s “full cost recovery” program that was instituted in 2010 by Mayor Villaraigosa and then City Council President Eric Garcetti, $410 million has been diverted from the operating budget of the Department of Recreation and Parks.
This year alone, Recreation & Parks is being hit up for $71 million, including $25 million for utilities (water and power), $2 million for refuse collection, and $44 million for “General Fund Reimbursement” to cover pension contributions, human resource benefits, and other related expenses. This represents 38% of the charter mandated appropriation of $186 million.
As a result, the Department’s headcount has been reduced by almost a third, resulting in less maintenance and even fewer programs and activities.
But the “full cost recovery” program does not apply to any City department other than the Library, whose appropriations, like those of Recreation and Parks, are mandated by the City Charter. However, in 2011, 63% of the voters approved Measure L which increased the Library’s charter mandated appropriation by 71%.
LA WATCHDOG--On Thursday, Amazon announced that it was opening a search for second headquarters city (HQ2) in North America and was requesting proposals from interested state/province, county, and city governments by October 19.
LA WATCHDOG--The rollout of the City’s Commercial Waste Exclusive Franchise System has caused sticker shock to many businesses, multi-family buildings, and homeowner associations as they have been bushwhacked by rates that in “many instances ….. have doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled, with the inclusion of new fee assessments that did not exist under the previous private hauler agreements” according to a letter sent by Councilmember Mike Bonin to Councilwoman Nury Martinez, the Chair of the Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee of the Los Angeles City Council.
LA WATCHDOG--It is not government’s obligation to provide services, but to see that they are provided. – New York Governor Mario Cuomo
LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and the four other members of the Executive Employee Relations Committee (Council members Wesson, Englander, Krekorian, and Koretz) are negotiating new contracts with the Coalition of City Unions and the Police Protective League. The current agreements expire on June 30, 2018.
LA WATCHDOG--As part of LA’s Clean Energy Future program, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council and its Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice Committee (formerly known as the Energy and Environment Committee) have called for the Department of Water and Power to study and develop a plan for DWP to generate 100% of its power requirements from renewable energy resources.
SAN FRANCISCO AND OAKLAND LEAD THE CHARGE--Environmentalists are celebrating two new lawsuits filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California, in attempts to hold some of the world's largest oil companies to account for fueling climate change.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Remember back in the primaries when Hillary Clinton, backed up by a chorus of elite media surrogates, told us how Sanders' proposal for universal health care was pie in the sky?
RESISTANCE WATCH--This past year, through my work with Veterans For Peace I was given the opportunity to stand in solidarity with resistance movements in Okinawa, at Standing Rock and in Palestine.
RESISTANCE WATCH--U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration would be eliminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy established by the Obama administration in June 2012.
RESISTANCE WATCH-- Lawyers for 15 states, led by New York and Washington, filed suit against President Trump on Wednesday over his planned repeal of the DACA program, arguing that federal authorities have “backtracked” on their promise to protect young immigrants who came forward and registered with the government. (Photo above: Protesters challenging President Trump’s DACA decision in the shadow of LA City Hall.)
RESISTANCE WATCH--As we reported in our last issue, communities from the ocean to downtown and back have been at the mercy of a thin aerial highway of packed air flights soaring over them throughout the day and late into the night, with rare respite. And it’s getting worse.
ANIMAL WATCH-“If there is nothing bad or dangerous in a dog’s history--especially Pit Bulls--why would Brenda Barnette hide its records?” asked a visitor at the September 12 Los Angeles Animal Services Commission meeting.
@THE GUSS REPORT-On Friday, the National Football League (NFL) released a news nugget that was obscured by Friday’s Hurricane Harvey, President Trump pardoning former sheriff Joe Arpaio, and North Korea firing off some test missiles.
ANIMAL WATCH--Let's say you’ve discovered some mouse droppings, maybe even seen a mouse or rat scurrying by one night. So you decide to get some rat poison and put it out confident the problem has been solved. The rat eats the poison and makes its way across the yard where it catches the eye of a cat, a hawk, an owl that move in to catch this easy prey because it has slowed down or is moving erratically. Let's say the neighbor’s cat catches it, eats it. A few days later the heartbroken neighbor is posting signs wondering where their cat has disappeared to while a distraught neighbor a few doors over is calling dead animal pick up for the cat lying under the bushes.
This is not an unusual scenario. Using poison to kill rodents creates a serious hazard to cats and local birds of prey.
From PetMD –
Strychnine is a very strong and dangerous poison that is often added to bait for killing rats, moles, gophers, and other rodents or unwanted predators. Having a very short duration of action, the clinical symptoms of strychnine poisoning typically appear within ten minutes to two hours after ingestion, resulting in sudden death.
Patients often will die due to spamming of the muscles involved in respiration, resulting in strangulation. Cats of all ages are equally susceptible to the adverse effects of strychnine.
The following are some of the symptoms of strychnine poisoning:
- Limb rigidity
- Stiff muscles
- Uncontrolled violent seizures (sometimes in response to bright lights or noise)
- Severe spasms leading to arching of the head, neck and back in extreme hyperextension (opisthotonus)
- Elevated heart rate
- High body temperature
- Breathing difficulties, inability to breathe,
So how do we get rid of rats without creating lethal danger to our wonderful local cats, hawks and owls, all of whom provide the BEST way to kill rats and mice?
First of all a message to all the kind people providing food to their local feral population, do NOT put food out and keep it out. Put it out at specific times in the day and pick up whatever the cat doesn’t eat. That food attracts other creatures as well. Cats will know when the food is coming especially if you call them every time.
We also discourage the use of glue traps as it is a particularly cruel and inhumane, time consuming way to kill a rodent. The mouse runs onto it, sticks, and is terrified while its struggles to escape. It will either die slowly of dehydration or starvation. The traps can rip off fur and skin while they struggle, and rodents have attempted to chew through their own limbs to get free. Other animals can get trapped on it as well.
There is now a popular, new and effective trap that is being used by responsible residents. An electric trap. Small box with lure at back. Only mice and rats can fit in and are immediately zapped. More humane and less messy than the old fashioned snap traps. Just Google electric rat traps.
Here are some websites that give excellent instruction on ways to discourage rodents from visiting at all including the use peppermint oil - Add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to each cotton ball and lay strategically around your home. Refresh every week or so, or whenever you notice the smell is fading.) Did you know rodents hate to cross aluminum foil?
(Dianne Lawrence is a dog trainer and the publisher of The Neighborhood News. Reach her at: whatagooddogla.com/)
ANIMAL WATCH-At the March 14 LA Animal Services Commission meeting, Brenda Barnette included in her GM Oral Report a short but very precise and lucid overview of the Animal Services’ widely publicized hearing held on March 1. This was the inquiry to determine whether two Pit Bull that killed a tiny Pomeranian and then inflicted injuries which may have resulted in, or contributed to, the death of the dog’s owner, Valentin Herrera, 76, should be declared “Dangerous Animals.”
Barnette concluded with a clear and succinct statement: “Those dogs have been humanely euthanized.”
She later told a CBS reporter that she may have been confused and claims she “misspoke.” However, Barnette was voluntarily summarizing one single event---not discussing a number of cases or under stress that might have muddied her memory.
None of the Commissioners has experience in animal control, but they are thoroughly familiar with LA Municipal Code SEC. 53.18.5. HEARING PROCEDURES AND LICENSE REVOCATIONS, since, with Commissioner Larry Gross presiding, they serve as the Appeals Board in Dangerous Animal and Barking Dog hearings and review these cases regularly. In fact, they had heard four such appeals that morning.
But, with three attorneys present, not one asked about the euthanasia of the Pit Bulls prior to an appeal period. GM Barnette’s statement was delivered so unequivocally that no one raised the basic question to determine the right of LAAS to euthanize: “Did the owner relinquish the dogs?”
On Monday, March 20, after my CityWatch article appeared, LA Killer Pit Bulls Euthanized…Are Dog Attacks Now an Epidemic?, which quoted Barnette’s statement, I received numerous communications from reliable sources that the Pit Bulls in the Lincoln Heights attack were very much alive and being held at North Central Animal Shelter awaiting the end of the owner’s appeal period on March 22.
At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, I electronically submitted a California Public Records Act Request (CPRA) to Commission President David Zaft and GM Brenda Barnette, asking for the records in their database regarding the status of these dogs.
Very promptly, at 2:20 p.m. I received all requested material, and a surprise! An entry by a shelter supervisor at approximately 3:45 p.m. on March 20, states:
“Administration has notified me that (Redacted name) is appealing DA 171117 NC and the determination that her dogs are “dangerous” (A1679513 AND A1679514). These dogs are to be held until the appeal is decided.
How could Brenda Barnette, who has more than six years as General Manager at one of the largest animal-control agencies in the U.S. and is the person who signs the decisions made at all Dangerous Animal hearings, forget there is an appeal period before allegedly dangerous dogs can be euthanized under law?
Also, there were two Assistant General Managers, Louis Dedeaux and Dana Brown, in the room at that time. Either could have slipped a note to their boss or whispered in her ear that she “misspoke.” (Asst. GM Louis Dedeaux has over 25 years in field and shelter experience at LA Animal Services and is the person who approves ALL animal euthanasias in City shelters.) Since neither of them corrected her, there was no reason for anyone present or those listening to the "On Air" broadcast to doubt Barnette’s word.
ALARMING INFORMATION FROM KENNEL IMPOUND
Here’s a little more information garnered from the Kennel Impound Cards: The two Pit Bulls involved in the February 2 attack on Mr. Herrera and his dog are named, “Rocky” (60 lbs.) and “Blue,” (83 lbs.) Both have a DOB of 02/03/2015. Neither is neutered or microchipped. There is no indication of dog licenses. Their physical condition does not indicate any negative findings but the description for each under OBJECTIVE FINDINGS, reads, “Patient will not allow full examination – SCARED.” A note for Rocky’s skin condition states: “MUZZLE SOILED W/BLOOD O/W OK.”
When CBS spoke to the grandson of the victim, Valentin Herrera, he was upset that the owner is requesting return of these dogs. However, an expert opined that it is possible the decision to appeal has as much to do with limiting potential civil liability. Simply allowing the dogs to be euthanized could be interpreted as an admission that they are dangerous, he said. The owner may believe there is a possibility of overturning the ruling by the LAAS Hearing Examiner, either on an appeal to the Commission or by filing an action in Superior Court.
If the owner prevails, it could mean the dogs will be released to her and returned to the Lincoln Heights location or merely moved to a location outside the city limits.
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME GM BARNETTE HAS “MISSPOKEN.”
Brenda Barnette -- who had no animal control or law-enforcement experience when she was appointed to be LA City’s “Top Dog” by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- has “misspoken” or “misinformed” on numerous occasions, with very costly results to taxpayers, animals and LAAS employees.
Here are just a few of the published examples:
Aug. 5, 2011 -- Guns, Ammunition Seized at L.A. Animal Shelters as Probe Expands
June 13, 2013 – Los Angeles Animal Services Captains Cleared
July 23, 2017 -- LA Animal Services' Employee Mauled by Pit Bull ... Who Cares?
SHOULD “MISMANAGEMENT” BE EXCUSED?
Barnette’s annual salary is now over $230,000 (Comparatively, Governor Jerry Brown makes $190,100, and the Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro tem are each paid $119,734, according to the LA Times.)
Shouldn’t we expect that she would not “misspeak” or “misinform” (without correction) on a matter as serious as Pit Bulls that are alleged to have killed a man and his dog?
Should the Commission (or anyone else) believe her on other issues -- including her insistence that Los Angeles is almost “No Kill,” although streets in many areas are rife with stray dogs and cats and thousands of homeless animals are merely being transported to other cities/states or “fostered” without a permanent home?
After more than six years, shouldn’t Barnette be expected to know the basic elements that are a regular part of her job?
Barnette’s “mismanagement” has systematically devastated a vital public safety department and endangered her staff, the public and animals; but there have been no consequences.
Is that because Barnette is automatically excused from “misspeaking” or “misinforming?” Or, is it because the political leadership of Los Angeles does not want to bring attention to its own rampant systemic manipulation of the truth?
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
ANIMAL WATCH-GM Brenda Barnette announced at the LA Animal Services’ Commission meeting on March 14, that the two Pit Bulls impounded after the tragic attack which killed Valentin Herrera, 76, and his small dog last month have been euthanized.
Mr. Herrera and his 5-year-old Pomeranian were walking in the 2600 block of Lincoln Park Blvd. near his home on February 2, when two male Pit Bulls which had escaped from a nearby yard grabbed the tiny dog, "shredding his body like a piece of material,” according to a neighbor. An eyewitness said that the owner of the Pit Bulls saw the dogs attacking but took no action to stop them.
When he tried to save his best friend, Mr. Herrera was also attacked, suffering severe injuries to his head and arms.
He underwent surgery but remained in a coma and never regained consciousness. According to a statement by a family member on their GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses, "...after about 3 weeks of being in the hospital the doctors have told us that his brain is no longer functioning. The family and I have decided to let him go and rest, because we know he has been through so much."
Mr. Herrera died on February 28, just before a scheduled hearing on the attack by the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services on March 1.
Brenda Barnette told the Commission that because the hearing was so emotional for both the victim’s family members who attended and the owner of the Pit Bulls, reporters were allowed in the room but no cameras were permitted inside.
KABC reported that, although the owner of the dogs did not want to be on camera, “at the hearing he said he was on medication at the time and in shock.”
A disabled woman, who claimed she lives on the same property as the owner of the Pit Bulls, previously told KABC that “the dogs were her ‘security’… against intruders who invaded the yard to steal fruit from its trees.” An earlier report stated that the dogs were not licensed.
Another resident of Lincoln Heights, Stephanie Grizelle, informed CBS that the same two Pit Bulls had killed her small therapy dog, Tulula, four days earlier, as her two young children watched. She added that both children required therapy.
Valentin Herrera was a steelworker who came to Los Angeles from Jalisco, Mexico. He purchased the home in Lincoln Heights in 1996. His son, Luis, described his father as a strong, loving man and wonderful father. Mr. Herrera leaves behind his wife of more than 50 years, Anita, children and grandchildren, and a shaken and grieving community.
THE INDIRECT VICTIMS OF DOG ATTACKS
Pit Bull attacks or other severe dog attacks, whether fatal or not, affect far more than the obvious victim. They impact neighbors and others who witness the grisly event or the aftermath. A family is often robbed of a parent, child, spouse, or animal companion. Even if the victims live, they may be permanently grossly disfigured and mentally traumatized -- unable to recover a previous lifestyle or continue a career. If a child is severely injured or killed, future hopes and dreams are lost forever.
Additionally, the family of victim of a dog attack can often suddenly find themselves with overwhelming unexpected veterinary, medical and/or funeral bills.
ARE PIT BULL ATTACKS BECOMING EPIDEMIC?
A prior CityWatch article about the attack on Valentin Herrera cited numerous recent local Pit Bull attacks, but this is not a problem unique to Los Angeles.
Here are just a few of the many attacks reported across the country from December 2016 – March 2017:
On March 16, 2017, a 63-year-old woman underwent surgery after she was attacked by two pit bulls in Pembroke, NC, according to the Red Springs Citizen. Both dogs were euthanized for rabies testing. The woman’s identity and condition were not yet disclosed because the case is also being handled as a “communicable disease investigation."
Early during 2016 a pit bull attacked and killed a Lumberton child, the report said, prompting the city to adopt an ordinance targeting dogs deemed “vicious.” A Pembroke woman lost an arm after being attacked last year by a Pit Bull.
On March 13, 2017, Chris Kazmierczak, 22, was walking to his car with a friend in Bensenville, IL, when he said he heard something running up behind him. "...(I) turned around to see what it was and next thing I know the thing was on my arm," he told WGN-TV. He described the attacking dog as a white Pit Bull, wearing a collar. His friend was finally finally able to kick and pull the dog away, but Kazmierczak will need to undergo rabies treatment if the animal isn't found.
Also, there is a gaping wound on his left arm and about 30 bite marks. Kazmierczak does construction for a living and said he won't be able to work with his hands for at least two months.
Feb 22, 2017- Joliet will hire a part-time police officer whose sole job will be to follow-up on dangerous dog calls. Last year in July the city revealed that they had 11 dangerous dog hearings concerning 17 dog attacks in 7 months. The city admitted that most attacks were committed by pit bulls, but would not give exact numbers. In August, after that city report on dangerous dogs, another serious Pit Bull attack left a woman nearly dead.
So far this year, Yarmouth has seen at least three pit bull attacks on small dogs, one which led to the death of a 3-year-old terrier named Doc….the type of dog known as Pit Bull shows up more in reported attacks across the Cape than any other breed, according to the Cape Cod Times.
Between January 2016 and February 2017, Yarmouth logged 19 Pit Bull bites on dogs and people, according to data from the town's Board of Health. Not included was a recent incident in which a Pit Bull bit its owner, severing the top part of her finger when she tried to break up a fight between it and another Pit Bull, according to Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief Steven Xiarhos.
Across the Cape during the same period, towns reported Pit Bull bites on humans and dogs 58 times. Pit bulls represented 12.6 percent of the breeds listed in the bite reports, but make up only 1.2 percent of the registered dogs on Cape Cod.
Police Fatally Shoot Two Attacking Pit Bulls in Bushwick [NY]
On March 11, 2017, police officers shot and killed two Pit Bulls that were mauling a man, according to the NYPost.com.
NYPD reported that multiple officers rushed to an apartment near the corner of Hancock Street and Bushwick Avenue at roughly 10:30 p.m., where they found a 50-year-old man inside being attacked by the two dogs. The injured man, identified by the Post as Paul "Nitty" Davis, was rushed to Kings County Hospital.
The dogs belonged to Devon Dixon, 26, a roommate of Davis, who said he had rescued them from a neighbor's yard after they had been abandoned, the Post notes. Dixon recalled trying to beat the dogs back with a two-by-four board, but was unable to stop them until police arrived and shot both dogs.
“But they had to, Nitty was losing a lot of blood," he told the Post.
Pit Bull seriously injures four-year-old boy in Pocatello
On Sunday, December 4, 2016, a four-year-old boy in Pocatello, Idaho, was attacked by a Pit Bull owned by his mother’s boyfriend, reports KIFI. The mother has custody of the child.
The boy’s father explained that the “…attack damaged two of the boy's facial nerves, which control movements, like smiling. Other wounds damaged the spit glands, the upper lip and below one eye.” Surgery to repair the boy’s face took six and a half hours and more than 1,000 stitches, according to the father. He said the surgeon told him it was one of the worst cases he’d ever seen and they don’t know if his son would ever get back functionally and he will have a big scar.
THE NATIONAL PIT BULL AWARENESS VICTIM page shows the faces and tells the stories of Pit Bull attack victims all over the country. The organization also provides the following statistics that show the increase in attacks:
Pit bull attacks on humans in the U.S. have reached an epidemic level, increasing 773 percent from 2007-2014. In a 30-year study of dog attacks in Canada and the US, 3394 people were attacked by dogs in a fatal and disfiguring manner. 2,113 or 60% of the attacks were by pit bulls and pit bull mixes.
From 2009 to 2016, the most recent 8-year period, pit bulls averaged 22.9 deaths per year, a 690% increase, according to U.S. Pit Bull Fatalities.
Following are the listed attacks from June 2016 - Feb 2017:
Valentine Herrera is the 508th American killed by a Pit Bull.
- February 2017, Los Angeles County, CA
Valentine Herrera, 76
Fatal pit bull attack
- January 2017, Fulton County, GA
Logan Braatz, 6
Fatal pit bull attack
- December 2016, Cabell County, WV
Isaiah Franklin, 6
Fatal pit bull attack
- October 2016, Staten Island, NY
Daisie Bradshaw, 68
Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s)
- September 2016, Shawnee County, KS
Piper Dunbar, 2
Fatal pit bull attack
- August 2016, Jefferson County, CO
Susan Shawl, 60
Fatal pit bull attack
- August 2016, Clark County, NV
Derion Stevenson, 9
Fatal pit bull attack
- August 2016, Screven County, GA
Michelle Wilcox, 30
Fatal pit bull attack
- July 2016, Honolulu County, HI
Crisencio Aliado, 52
Fatal pit bull attack
- July 2016, Navajo County, AZ
Kayden Begay, 3
Fatal pit bull attack
- July 2016, Wayne County, MI
Elizabeth Rivera, 71
Fatal pit bull attack
- June 2016, Fresno County, CA
Susie Kirby, < 1
Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s)
- June 2016, Penobscot County, ME
Hunter Bragg, 7
Fatal pit bull attack
- June 2016, San Joaquin County, CA
Earl Stephens Jr., 43
Fatal pit bull attack
(See more at U.S. Pit Bull Fatalities)
DogsBite.org provides Google State Map: “California Fatal Pit Bull Attacks”
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
ANIMAL WATCH-California is one of the states with the highest percentage of surplus wild horses and burros; yet, little public or political attention has focused on this. Because of the projected wild-equine population increase, it is a humane issue that is becoming critical from both an ethical and financial standpoint and has gained heightened importance after a recent recommendation by the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board for disposing of these animals.
An estimated 67,027 wild horses and burros roam 31 million acres of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Western U.S. The agency’s recommended total sustainable population for this space is 26,715. This means the number of animals now exceeds the maximum appropriate level by more than 40,000; and, it is increasing at a rate of 15 to 18 percent annually. The BLM's historical finding is that both wild horse and burro herds double in size about every four years.
Additionally, in August 2016 the BLM reports that the number of off-range -- unadopted or unsold -- wild horses and burros maintained in holding facilities called Herd Management Areas (MHA's) from California to Illinois was over 45,000.
The federal Bureau of Land Management is mandated to manage, protect and control wild horses and burros under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971. This law also authorizes the BLM to remove excess wild horses and burros, which have no significant natural predators, from the range to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for multiple uses, in accordance with the 1976 Federal Land Policy and Management Act.
Each year, an inventory is required of the number of wild horses and burros roaming BLM-managed lands. From this, the Appropriate Management Level (AML) is determined. This is the number of animals that can thrive in balance with other public land resources and uses. The AML for California is estimated at 2,200. However, the Golden State's wild equine population is now at 4,925 horses, plus an additional 3,391 burros, for a total of 8,316.
In neighboring Nevada, an epic number of 34,531 wild horses and burros inhabit the federal rangelands -- nearly three times the AML 12,811 figure the BLM says the state can support. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) announced in April he will take legal action to force the federal government to fund the management of Nevada’s wild horse population at appropriate levels because of the impact on the state's economy.
The BLM has been rounding up and relocating wild horses and burros to its holding facilities so that privately owned cattle could graze on the land, critics contend. The cost of maintaining almost 46,000 horses in these overcrowded facilities reached $49 million in 2015.
Director Neil Kornze says it can cost about $50,000 per animal to feed and care for wild horses sitting in corrals and pastures over their lifetime and that cost has doubled over the last seven years. He predicts that if the BLM cannot adopt out and/or transfer a significant number of the wild horses and burros being held to other government agencies upon request (such as, the Border Patrol), the cost of feeding and caring for them during their lifetime could rise to $1 billion.
On September 9, in an effort to curb the increasing overpopulation West-wide, the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board, which suggests policy for the Bureau of Land Management, proposed a program that would either euthanize (which means shoot) or sell without limitation “all suitable animals in long and short term holding deemed unadoptable.”
Cries of outrage by animal activists accused the government of squandering its very limited resources in rounding up and holding the animals instead of launching a wide-scale birth-control effort.
A petition to the United States Congress claiming that not enough had been done to have the horses adopted was posted by Protect Mustangs on September 12, declaring, “The public is outraged. Wild horses and burros are living symbols of freedom and the pioneering spirit of the American West.”
Ginger Kathrens, executive director of The Cloud Foundation, a wild horse advocacy group based in Colorado, stated the BLM should advance the use of fertility control vaccines that keep populations in check but allow horses and burros to remain free on the range.
In a chart titled, Population Growth-Suppression Treatments, the BLM explains that the currently available fertility control vaccine (PZP) is limited to a one-year period of effectiveness (initially assumed to be 22 months) and must be hand-injected into a captured wild horse." If deployed via ground-darting, PZP has the same duration but is very difficult to deliver to an animal which avoids human contact and the sizes of the herds makes it difficult to locate or track individual animals.
Kathrens told the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands earlier this year that. “Current management practices of round-up, removal and warehousing … cause compensatory reproduction – an increase in populations as a result of decreased competition for forage.”
"In other words, there would not be a surge in wild horses if the BLM hadn’t removed most of them from their land in the first place," summarizes Inhabitat.
Director Neil Kornze advised Congress in his 2017 budget request that the BLM is "overwhelmed" and sees no slowdown in population of these animals. BLM is requesting the establishment of a congressionally chartered foundation that would help fund and support efforts to adopt horses that have been rounded up.
Kornze told a House Appropriations subcommittee in March that the growing herds are causing environmental harm to vast swaths of rangeland. Among other things, he asked Congress to help by authorizing tax credits to "incentivize adoption" of wild horses (E&E Daily, March 4.)
Skeptics pointed to the Washington Times article on October 24, 2015, confirming a report by the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General that between 2009 and 2012, the BLM sold 1,794 federally protected wild horses to a Colorado rancher who admitted that most of the horses that he purchased through the BLM's Wild Horse and Burro Program went to slaughter. The Times also reports that taxpayers footed the $140,000 cost of delivery of the animals.
On September 15, BLM spokesman Jason Lutterman issued a rapid response that the agency will NOT institute the controversial proposal by the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. “The BLM will not euthanize or sell without limitation any healthy animals. We’re going to continue caring for and seeking good homes for the un-adopted animals in our off-range corrals and pastures.”
To sell the animals “without limitation" essentially removes protocols established in a BLM 2013 policy aimed at ensuring they won’t be slaughtered and includes other provisions to assure that these protected animals are not resold or do not fall into the hands of abusers.
BLM Director Kornze also asked Congress to help by authorizing tax credits to "incentivize adoption" of wild horses (E&E Daily, March 4.)
However, The Verge points out, adoptions are only $125 apiece, and even purchasing all 45,000 equines for $5,625,000 would do little to offset the $49 million that the BLM spent on them just last year.
Now we have more facts, but resolution still seems to be at an impasse. How would Californians react to the possibility that -- without progress in management -- thousands of the Golden State's wild horses and burros could face euthanasia?
(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to opposingviews.com. She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.