Agree or disagree with their point of view, some local bloggers writing about the Griffith Park fire and aftermath have transformed themselves into true community journalists. Following are three examples from Donna Barstow, Thunderbolt Fan, and the Lone Wacko.
After Donna Barstow received a whooping for saying that the LAFD sucks, she didn’t apologize. Instead, she dug in her heels, picked up the phone, and became a community journalist.
Not all the commenters on Barstow’s rant came to the defense of our local firefighters. One in particular, named Scott, detailed why he believed that the LAFD is logistically unprepared for forest fires, or at least anything on the scale of what happened at Griffith Park, as their vehicles aren’t built for this sort of action. Worse off, Scott alleged that the fire was deliberately allowed to burn for days longer than necessary, “so the State would flip for the bill.”
Barstow phoned the Fire Department and was connected immediately to Brian Humphrey, who manages the LAFD blog among his duties as a spokesman for the department.
We introduced ourselves and I asked him the big question. I was very disappointed to find out that he confirmed what Scott (the commenter) said: The LAFD has only OES type 1 trucks, nothing higher.
When asked about Scott’s harsher charge that the fire was dragged out to guarantee funding, Barstow writes that Humphry responded by comparing “firefighters to a football team: the team may or may not have great ratings, but all the players care about is winning the game.”
Still, Barstow proceeded to make some calls, first to the State Department of Finance, and then to the LA office of Gov. Schwarzenegger who told her that the Office of Emergency Services “makes determinations of money amounts based on acreage and property damage, not amount of time the fire rages… And acreage burned has an effect on aid from the State.”
Barstow still wonders if the LAFD allowed the 800 acres to burn in order to gain more aid.
After some nudging on my part, “Thunderbolt Fan” has begun posting his efforts at getting answers about the current state of Griffith Park on LA Voice.
His most recent entry, “Thought Process” Chicken in Griffith Park, includes the reply he received from Councilman Tom LaBonge’s office after he pressed for an answer to why portions of the park are still closed:
RAP’s (Rec and Park’s) thought process says that it is better to keep the park closed and for the recovery team to complete their work and then open the park, rather than opening the park now only to have to close areas of the park off and on for the next six months. But, the Councilman disagrees with this train of thought.
Finally, LoneWacko posts a lengthy anecdote one if his readers share with him that opens with, “I’m not proud of what I just did, but I just violated a few signs and biked and hiked through Griffith Park.”
The “reader” goes on to tell that he hopped blockade after blockade, and noticed little to no fire damage in most of the closed off areas.
It’s my estimation that there is no good reason to continue keeping the Park closed, as long as new signs are erected pointing out that people should stay away from the burn areas.
Said “reader” goes on to blame Tom LaBonge and “scared nanny staters who have no knowledge of nature” for the closures.
As I’ve mentioned before, its great that some local bloggers are taking it upon themselves to find out whats going on at Griffith Park and reporting back to the public, because the efforts coming from Tom LaBonge’s office and Rec and Parks has been poor at best.
Five years ago, one could have argued it was up to the press to find out and print updates about the park and answer questions the public may have – but with the availability of blogs and other online means, there’s no reason why LaBonge’s office can’t feed us more information.
Rec and Parks had a good idea with the Griffith Park Recovery Blog, but dropped the ball when they decided to just update the same post again and again (to begin with, people who have the blog in their RSS reader won’t know its been updated unless they compose a new post).
People will be critical of whatever their local government and agencies do, but at the very least they can provide them with info so they don’t have to rely on hearsay information and theories.