Wed, Apr

LA City Council:  Emergency Un-Preparedness


GELFAND’S WORLD - The Los Angeles City Council has once again engaged in emergency preparedness by passing the buck. The last time around, the city passed an ordinance requiring that so-called "soft story" buildings receive seismic reinforcement. Soft story buildings are the ones in which living spaces are built directly over garages. In such buildings, there is not sufficient support for the living units and they tend to collapse if sufficiently shaken (see Northridge, 1994). The city put the cost of the reinforcements on the owners. 

Now, all of a sudden, the City Council has discovered that global warming is real and that there could be some serious repercussions from the kind of heat wave that the new era will bring. I should mention that I have been talking about this very topic for the past several years right here -- how will we handle a week of 125 degree temperatures in the valley, with night time temperatures remaining in the 120 degree plus range? Something like this conceivably could happen over the next few decades. 

So all of a sudden, the City Council is thinking about requiring that all apartment owners fit all of their units with air conditioning. It's not law as yet, but it is now being seriously considered. 

I have a couple of thoughts. One is that I have been living without an air conditioner for the last couple of decades, and it has worked out OK. It's true that it is generally cooler down here along the coast, particularly compared to the valley. But this is a reasonable argument for why local apartment owners can be spared from this requirement. There may come a year when global warming makes this ordinance a logical necessity, but not as yet. 

Perhaps the City Council could actually attempt some rationality and map out the areas that are most subject to lethal heat waves. Then those areas can be supplied with the capacity for 24 hour relief by means of libraries, warehouses, and whatever other public buildings are available. Then the city can build additional structures as needed, as the funding becomes available. The architects will need to remember that such structures will need to be fitted with independent power generating capacity. 

What the City Council left out 

I'd like to mention another idea that has been brought up in our emergency preparedness discussions in the citywide neighborhood council system. We've been talking about preparing for a major earthquake, and I have been reporting on those discussions in these pages. 

A central tenet of earthquake preparedness is that we will be on our own in the first days -- and possibly even weeks -- after the Big One. The official term is Shelter in Place. That means pretty much what it sounds like: You and your family won't be able to go far because we can expect that roads will be closed due to downed electrical wires, water will not flow because the water mains will be broken, the electricity will be out due to the downing of those power lines, and the Fire Department and Police will be too busy dealing with concentrated casualty sites to deal with our little problems. 

The problem with Shelter in Place is that we will all need food, water, shelter, prescription medicines, and implements like a non-electric can opener. We will also need things like plastic garbage bags for our own waste. 

Think about apartment dwellers in terms of storing enough water and perhaps other things. Ideally, each apartment building ought to be storing 15 gallons of water for each inhabitant. So here is the problem: If you rent an apartment, you have little enough storage space as it is, so if you load up on emergency water and gear, you will be buried under it. 

And that's where our City Council could be useful, by requiring (instead of air conditioners) that apartment buildings have on hand enough stored water, food, and emergency gear to allow all the tenants to shelter in place. And this plan is a lot cheaper than those air conditioners. 

Smoking Gun Number 127 

I can't keep track of all the explanations Donald Trump has provided for the boxes of Top Secret documents that were stored in his Mar a Lago home. He says he had the right to have them because he had declassified them in his mind, so there was nothing wrong, and he had the right to keep them because something something. It turns out that there are specific procedures for declassification (and keeping records of what has been declassified) and that presidential records are the property of the United States at all times. But we've been over that already. 

There's something new. 

Now it comes out that the Justice Department has Trump on tape making a pretty striking admission: 

CNN — 

"Federal prosecutors have obtained an audio recording of a summer 2021 meeting in which former President Donald Trump acknowledges he held onto a classified Pentagon document about a potential attack on Iran, multiple sources told CNN, undercutting his argument that he declassified everything. 

"The recording indicates Trump understood he retained classified material after leaving the White House, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. On the recording, Trump’s comments suggest he would like to share the information but he’s aware of limitations on his ability post-presidency to declassify records, two of the sources said." 

That certainly takes away the argument that it was all just a little mistake in the way materials were packed into moving vans in Trump's hurried departure from the White House. Now it comes out that Trump admits openly in conversation that he has a secret document. Note that when he discusses the content of the document to people without the proper clearances, he is breaking the law. 

You can read the story here 

A question on Tara Reade 

A while back, one of the commenters threw in a lot of questions which, roughly translated, came down as, "You're so hard on Donald Trump, well what about the following accusations against Joe Biden?" You know, the usual complaint that he did not get us out of Afghanistan in a totally sanitary way, and so forth. One of the questions was about Tara Reade. Now I must confess (and did at the time) that I didn't know much about the story, but Tara Reade had complained about being touched inappropriately by Joe Biden, a story which gradually morphed into what law enforcement would probably call rape with a foreign object. The best response I could come up with is the standard Democratic and Independent response, which is (so unlike the Trump defense) that we should consider the evidence and make our determination based on evidence. That is a long way from Trump's categorical rejection of all such claims, even in the face of substantial and consistent sworn testimony. At the time, I didn't know much about the case or the evidence, but now we have a detailed account of Tara Reade's life and career in government service, including her accusations against Biden. Here's a hint: SHE HAS SUDDENLY DEFECTED TO MOSCOW! You can find a detailed description of the varying history of her accusations at the Daily Kos site here.  

So much for the veracity of another Biden accuser. Notice that her accusations follow the pattern of repeating (against a Democrat) an accusation that has been strongly established against Donald Trump. Tara Reade is one more example that when it comes to the Republicans, every accusation is actually a confession.


(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected].)