Fri, Aug

Let’s Save Lives First--There Will Be Time Aplenty for Finger-Pointing

ALPERN AT LARGE-The fires are now ablaze in the mountains near the Getty Center, and local schools and highways are now closed.

We're a society that tends to blame and belittle, and pursue heat when light is a better goal to pursue. Probably I'm as guilty as any for that.

Today, on Monday, October 28th, 2019, however, this is not a time to blame. 

Yes, our own human verbal heat will likely add to the heat of the fires affecting Malibu, Santa Monica, and West L.A. residents but that won't help anyone who must flee, evacuate, or otherwise have their lives interrupted (and not in a good way...well, perhaps with the exception of Westside children who get the California version of a "snow day" today).

People's lives and homes will be endangered, and some will lose their precious homes. 

There is a time to raise issues of where people should live, and of our public infrastructure policy, but today is not that day. For Mr. LeBron James, regardless of any previous CityWatch articles about his statements or actions regarding NBA or foreign policy, forget all that. Your home and family are endangered.

Get out. Be safe. 

Anyone with dignity or decency want any Malibu, Canyon Country, or Westside residents to survive, and let's hope that the homes and damage are kept to a minimum. There is no room for any schadenfreude (I frankly don't do that, with perhaps the exception of folks like Osama bin Laden and the recently departed leader of ISIS).

There will be lessons learned. There will be fingers pointed. There will be those in both government and the utility companies who will be dragged into the spotlight, and perhaps deservedly so.

But NOT today.

Today we focus on helping and commiserating with those whose lives have been hurt, and who are probably frightened in ways we don't usually contend with in Southern California.

And when the time will inevitably come for blame, for policy changes, and for the accusations to fly, it's to be hoped that "lessons learned" and prevention measures to minimize the risk of this happening again will be the foremost in our public discourse.

Especially because when it comes to Mother Nature, there is very often NOTHING that can be done to prevent these tragedies. So, blaming is pointless and distracting from any hope of a "fix".

Good luck to the firefighters and first-responders who will do their jobs in ways most of us will never understand...because they run TO the fires when the rest of us run FROM them.

Let's hope that our elected and civic leaders, and our heroes in uniform and firegear, will do what they do best so that, when the coast is clear, we can again focus on problem-solving...and as human nature dictates, prevention measures that will focus on light and not on heat.

Frankly, we've had too much heat already. We don't need any more of that.


(CityWatch Columnist, Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D, is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He was (termed out) also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Outreach Committee, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of its Planning Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at Ken.Alpern@MarVista.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)