Local Officials were ‘All Hands on Deck’ – Just One was MIA

RANTZ & RAVEZ-While I strive to express my honest and sincere thoughts on a variety of subjects in my RantZ and RaveZ columns, I sincerely attempt to look at the positive side of all situations and focus on the issues that affect you the readers and residents of this region -- and in particular, the City and County of Los Angeles.

With the recent massive and deadly Woolsey Fire that struck both Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, I noticed that many local elected officials were actively engaged with their staff, volunteers and business owners in offering assistance and support for the many fire victims impacted by the flames. 

Congressman Brad Sherman phoned me more than once asking what he could offer in assistance to the residents of Bell Canyon and the other areas in his Congressional District impacted by the fire. State Senator Henry Stern was active in the fire area offering help for those in need along with newly elected State Assemblyman Jessie Gabriel. Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks was very visible in supporting her residents and business owners and utilizing the media to keep people informed. Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield and his staff, along with community volunteers, were all engaged in a massive collection center at his field office to assist those in need with a variety of household items. 

Local markets rolled out free water and other items for those terrified by the out of control flames that consumed over 1,500 homes and other property worth billions of dollars that stretched for miles from the San Fernando Valley to Malibu and beyond. While the Fire Dept Personnel and Law Enforcement Officers were doing their best to contain the fire and protect the property of those who evacuated, many utility crews mobilized to restore electricity and other public services. I met one LA County Public Works Supervisor who worked 40 straight hours during the raging fire. 

I was contacted by one local councilman in a Los Angeles County Community impacted by the fire who mentioned the great work done by the limited fire crews responding to his neighborhood. We engaged in a discussion about the involvement of other elected officials from various governmental agencies.  

The councilman was concerned that Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Chair of the Board, who represents the majority of the area impacted by the fire in the Third District of Los Angeles City and County, was absent during the evacuations and subsequent time after the fire. I checked with other elected officials in neighboring communities in the County’s Third District and received the same response. No involvement by the Supervisor or representative from her office. They were Missing in Action. 

I do not find this comment unusual since I have never, and I mean NEVER, seen Los Angeles County Supervisor Kuehl at any San Fernando Valley event. After serving in Sacramento in the State Assembly and Senate, I guess she does not care about her constituents or know what they expect from her. I know for a fact that the San Fernando Valley has not had a representative from the office of Supervisor Kuehl for a long time. At the age of 77, isn’t it time for her to retire and enjoy life? Shouldn’t she open the door for someone else to fill her shoes and properly represent and fight for residents of the Third Supervisory District? This district encompasses 431 square miles, stretching from the ocean to Los Feliz, and from Venice up to San Fernando. With nearly two million residents, the it has a population larger than 14 states and Washington DC. 

As the previous President of the Greater West Valley Lions Club, I recently joined Lion Michael Sirota at the Lion’s Club booth located at the Disaster Assistance Center at the Conrad Hilton Foundation Facility in Agoura Hills. We passed out vouchers to fire victims in need of financial aid. It was a very sad experience listening to stories from those who lost everything they owned. 

If you have been impacted by the Woolsey Fire and need assistance, go to the Disaster Assistance Center at 30440 Agoura Road in Agoura Hills. There are representatives from nearly all Federal, State and County agencies who can assist you with all questions.  

I hope you had a Blessed Thanksgiving. Now it is time to shop and prepare for Christmas.

 

(Dennis P. Zine is a former and retired LAPD Supervisor, former and retired 12-year Los Angeles City Councilman and current General Manager at Bell Canyon in Ventura County.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.