New From CityWatch
GUEST WORDS--As we all now know, this weekend in Charlottesville, hundreds of white supremacists gathered with torches, shouting racial, ethnic and religious epithets about Black and Jewish people, chanting Nazi slurs, waving the Confederate flag and banners emblazoned with giant swastikas. A peaceful protester was murdered. Two brave police officers lost their lives.
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.
DEEGAN ON LA-Movie mogul and studio owner Jack Warner helped to build Hollywood, a town that is now slowly being broken down like the set on one of his many movies. But it’s not movie crews who are doing post-production tear-down. It’s developers and politicos who are striking the set every time they collaborate to replace a successful expression of Hollywood architecture with their version of the sequel. Each demolition tears away at Hollywood’s history and destroys the character and fabric of Hollywood neighborhoods.
CALIFORNIA POLITICS--When two New York baseball teams, the Dodgers and the Giants, moved west six decades ago, their ancient cross-town rivalry merged into the equally intense – and equally long – competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco for economic, cultural and, of course, political dominance of California.
@THE GUSS REPORT-Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo played a Joseph McCarthy-esque Pied Piper with his 14 law-making colleagues last week in which they pondered “taking names,” as it were, of all businesses that profit from President Donald J. Trump’s proposed border wall.
PRECEDENT SETTING--A U.S. District Court this week blocked federal prosecutors from moving forward with their conspiracy case against a pair of Northern California cultivators because the duo was determined to be in compliance with Golden State medical marijuana laws.
GELFAND’S WORLD--I'll start with the more serious side of this story, but then we'll get into a little MTA bashing which, I assure you, they well deserve. Let's start by imagining that there is an emergency in the harbor (maybe a fire on a ship is creating toxic fumes) that would require an evacuation. There are basically three northbound streets connecting San Pedro to the rest of the city -- Pacific Ave, Gaffey, and Western. There are a couple of roads leading across the Palos Verdes peninsula to the west, but they are minor elements in the transportation network. The bulk of traffic into and out of the area is along the north-south axis.
WE OWN THIS MAN-Friends, citizens, educators: we own this man. He is our failure. The politicians who ran on American (read: white) exceptionalism and the people who voted for them ― and his kindergarten teacher, his granny and Mr. Rogers ― all told him he was special. And then failed to tell him he was no more special than the kids on either side of him.
CIVIL RIGHTS--This past week saw some weaknesses in American life. First, our inability to deal with a mentally ill President and second, our inability to deal with the results of Group Rights. Unfortunately, the two collided.
One thing this past weekend's horrors in Charlottesville showed us is that that concerns about polarization and divisiveness can sometimes be a dodge from the real problems.
EDUCATION WATCH-The Cal State system's recent decision to get rid of the requirement that as many as 25,000 incoming freshman take non-credited remedial courses in Entry Level Math (ELM) and the English Placement Test (EPT) before taking college level coursework is irrational. It defies common sense to think that students who have not mastered prerequisite grade-level standards in Math and English are able to understand college level coursework – coursework that relies on basic foundational knowledge to understand the college level classes they are now allowed to take.
VIEW FROM THE RIGHT--There are so many uncertain stories, so many unanswered questions, and so many confusing narratives after the nightmarish civil unrest in Charlottesville that it will take weeks or months to figure them all out...but two things are for certain:
CONNECTING CALIFORNIA--If the apocalypse comes to California, I’ll be ready. After all, I’ve been to San Juan Bautista, which has centuries of experience with the ending of worlds. (Photo above: Scene from the Hitchcock movie Vertigo)
SHOW UP AND SPEAK UP (AGAIN)-Mayor Garcetti's Interim CAO, Richard Llewellyn, is trying to raise land use appeal fees to discourage the average Joe from filing an appeal. This may happen at the City’s PLUM Committee meeting this coming Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 2:30 p.m. Under our Constitution, the people have a basic right to make a complaint to, or seek the assistance of, their government, without fear of punishment or reprisals.
EMBRACING THE OTHER-At 3 p.m. on January 28, 2017 -- the day after Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travel to the United States by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries -- I frantically tried to stop the departure of a plane carrying Ali Vayeghan.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS—(Editor’s Note: This letter on Neighborhood Council elections and related matters was provided to CityWatch by the author.) Dear Councilmembers Ryu, Cedillo & Wesson -- Attached please find the Opposition CIS from the HCNC for this matter. It was not placed in the file despite submission and confirmation and now represents the 2nd time a CIS we filed was not placed in the council file.
Aside from the attached email, I am speaking for myself as community leader and advocate.
I SUPPORT only the action to postpone the elections to 2019.
I OPPOSE online voting for NC's. (While I supported this previously the system is complete disaster and needs to be removed until an independent analysis can be commissioned).
I vehemently OPPOSE another dollar being dumped into DONE staff or elections particularly after the farce that went down over the Skid Row NC.
I further OPPOSE any future funding for elections until such time that an independent panel made up of independent election experts and NC Board Members selected by NC's themselves be created to analyze and recommend a standard and criteria that is not flexible for abuse and is clear to all people running and voting.
If anything, very serious consideration must be given to the removal of Grayce Liu as GM for sheer incompetence, cronyism and partisanship.
There is a growing movement amongst Board Members all over the City to organize for her removal. That process has already begun.
Addressing just a few items:
- Liu has become far too "important" to return emails or phone calls from Board Members who openly oppose her.
- Ms Liu fabricates contact with staff so she can officially close unanswered requests
- We are forced to work with staff members both at DONE and the City attorney's despite numerous requests to be removed and complaints being filed with the Office of Personnel
- Evidence of fraud in both the election process and funding have been ignored by both Ms Liu and Senior Staff
- Just in my 3 year tenure alone, we are on our 4th DONE Staffer
- Ruling politically instead of properly, ethically and procedurally, despite the recommendation not to by an independent panel on the Skid Row NC matter.
- The mission of the NC's seems to be completely lost on Ms Liu, who treats our Boards as an extension of the Mayor's office and its policies. It is not. The NC's as you know, are deliberately independent bodies that were formed to allow communities to organize for themselves and to tackle issues unique to their neighborhoods creating a check and balance for the City.
I and several of my colleagues, would like the opportunity to sit down and meet with you to discuss the direction of DONE and the possibilities of a full restructuring of the organization so it is removed from the hands of burned out bureaucrats.
I apologize for dumping this here, but there needs to be a clear understanding of the reasons we are here.
I and my colleagues would welcome a time we can meet with you and staff to discuss next steps.
(Laura Velkei is 3rd Vice President of the Historic Cultural Neighborhood Council. She can be reached here.)
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Gentrification is the greatest threat to the stability of the Crenshaw community. The biggest gentrification project we face is the proposed renovation of the Crenshaw Mall. If this project is built as currently proposed it would rise up a gentrification tsunami that will push out Crenshaw’s tenants, low-income residents, and vulnerable homeowners. Accordingly, Crenshaw Subway Coalition opposes the Crenshaw Mall redevelopment project as currently proposed…and if you care about the community you should too.
NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--In a recent article that trumpeted the $80-million sale of a luxury housing complex in Westlake, Los Angeles Times reporter Roger Vincent appears to champion gentrification and derisively describes our neighborhood as “blighted.” We take vigorous exception.
PERSPECTIVE-In several of my articles, I’ve characterized the City of Los Angeles’ finances as being in a state of virtual bankruptcy. Pension costs are the key drivers of the city’s unsustainable model. Growing pension costs are plugged by reducing service levels or holding them flat in the face of higher demand.
THE PREVEN REPORT--To the casual observer there was nothing remarkable about the Studio City Neighborhood Council’s (SCNC) vote last Monday to oppose Harvard-Westlake School’s “Parking, and Athletic Improvement Plan,” which involves building in the hillside abutting the school’s campus a 750-space parking structure topped with a lighted athletic field that is connected to the school by a covered pedestrian bridge arching over Coldwater Canyon Boulevard.
MY TURN-The most overused "buzz phrase" in today's communication is Fake News. We could even call it trendy or fashionable. Late Night TV uses it as a source to increase its ratings. John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Shawn Hannity and Alex Jones and most of the others are creating their own style of fake news. No one who stays up that late would possibly think this is anything but satire.
CONNECTING CALIFORNIA-President Trump claims that California allowed millions of non-citizens to cast ballots in the 2016 elections. This allegation, while totally bogus, has put California and its political leaders on the defensive. They are forced to respond as Trump and his allies use the lie to justify a new federal commission devoted to making it harder for all Americans to vote.
UNION BUSTING-Since Election Day, unions have lived on borrowed time. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has exclusive authority over many key questions of labor law, is still controlled by Democrats — thus shielding workers and their unions from attacks that became far likelier the moment Donald Trump was declared the winner of the 2016 election.
CRIME POLITICS-In January 2016, bemoaning that "the more people talk about improving the use of forensic science in the courtroom, the more things stay the same," I blogged in bold in The Huffington Post:
THE COHEN COLUMN--The Nuts with Nukes has a new member. Now North Korea doesn't feel so alone.
LA WATCHDOG--President Trump is threatening to trash the 23 year old North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) because he is bent out of shape by our $63 billion trade deficit with Mexico. But that would be a huge error and not in the best interests of the United States and Southern California.
LA WATCHDOG--Our streets are some of the worst in the country, hardly worthy of a world class city that will be hosting the 2028 Olympics. Yet the repair and maintenance of our 28,000 lane miles of residential and arterial streets is not a priority for City Hall.
Over the last two years, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Budget and Finance Chair Paul Krekorian have cut the funding from the General Fund to the Pavement Preservation Program by over 50% (from $52.3 million to $25.5 million). At the same time, General Fund revenues have increased by $435 million.
Underlying the budget cut for the Pavement Preservation Program is the ever growing expenditures for personnel, ranging from increases in salaries; pension contributions; health, dental, and other benefits; workers’ compensation benefits; and police overtime.
For this year alone, the $213 million increase in personnel expenditures exceeded the growth in General Fund revenues by $10 million. This shortfall results in a “service insolvency,” where the City is able to pay its bills (primarily salaries and benefits), but basic services are neglected or “crowded out.” These services include the maintenance of our streets, sidewalks, parks, urban forest, and the rest of the City’s infrastructure as well as desperately needed investments in computer technology and management information systems.
Overall, the budget for the Pavement Preservation Program has been cut 17% over the past two years, from $157 million to $131 million. Sources of revenue other than the General Fund ($25 million) have remained stable, including the Special Gas Tax ($65 million), local return revenues from the Metro related sales taxes ($32 million from Measure R and Proposition C),and the Street Damage Restoration Fee ($9 million).
The City claims that this cut in the Pavement Preservation Program will not result in a lower level of service. Through “operational efficiencies and cost effective methods of implementation,” the City will be able to repair 2,400 miles of streets, up from 2,200 in in 2015.
The Pavement Preservation Program is designed to maintain the condition of our streets in their current average poor condition. But it does not address the 8,200 miles of failed D and F streets that are in need of very expensive resurfacing or reconstruction.
The ticket to repair and maintain our failed streets is estimated to be in the range of $3 to $4 billion over the next fifteen to twenty years. This will require a tax increase of about $250 million a year. This is the equivalent of a 5% increase in our property taxes, a half cent increase in our sales tax to 10%, or a parcel tax of $320.
There are ways to eliminate or mitigate this general tax increase.
The City could allocate a greater share of the $250 million in Local Return revenue from the Metro related sales tax, especially those related to Measure R (2008) and Measure M (2016) to our failed streets. The same for the local return of an estimated $100 million from the State’s new $5.2 billion a year gas and vehicle tax. The City could also be more aggressive in collecting the Street Damage Restoration Fee as was recommended by Controller Ron Galperin.
The City could also allocate a portion of its increased budget revenues to our failed streets. Over the next four years, revenues are projected to increase by $650 million.
Alternatively, we would benefit from outsourcing the repair and maintenance of our streets to independent contractors who would not be burdened by the City’s overly restrictive work rules. They are probably more efficient than the poorly managed Bureau of Street Services that was panned in Controller Galperin’s 2014 audit.
Before the City considers another massive tax increase, it needs to not only develop a detailed operational plan for the repair and maintenance of our 28,000 miles of streets, but also a comprehensive financial plan for the City that considers alternative sources of financing and eliminates the “service insolvency” that adversely impacts our quality of life.
Over the last year, Angelenos have been hit with $1.6 billion in new taxes. This includes our share of the tax increases implemented by the Metro and the County (40%) and the State (10%). This is the equivalent a 30% increase in our property taxes or a 2½ cent increase in our sales tax.
Can we afford to be hit with another massive tax by the City?
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: email@example.com.)
LA WATCHDOG--On Tuesday, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson made a motion to look into the feasibility of creating the “Bank of Los Angeles” with a vision statement of “financing the building of affordable housing,” making loans to “small business entrepreneurs,” and accommodating the cannabis industry and its banking requirements.
LA WATCHDOG--In an Op-Ed column Tax Land, Not Development last week in the Los Angeles Times, three professors at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs have proposed a “flat tax of $3 per day on every parcel in the City” to fund affordable housing in the City of Los Angeles. This “small land tax” would replace the proposed linkage fee on new residential and commercial development that would raise “only” $100 million a year, an amount that the three professors deem insufficient to solve the City’s housing problem.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Though some suggest the Republicans' effort to push through "tax reform" will likely fail like their effort to repeal Obamacare, the White House and its corporate allies have undertaken a coordinated campaign to ensure the passage of a tax code rewrite that stands to fatten the pockets of the wealthiest.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Hundreds demonstrated in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Sunday as part of the March to Give Keystone XL the Boot.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is launching a campaign Wednesday to promote his planned Medicare for All legislation, engaging directly with voters across the nation.
RESISTANCE WATCH--Senator John McCain has been getting lots of press for his vote that helped turn the course on the Skinny Health Care Bill’s 51-49 trajectory on the Senate floor. Of course, McCain has long been a fixture in the GOP, pre-dating the 2008 Palin fiasco. And his newly diagnosed gliobastoma makes this story even more compelling.
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.