Tom LaBonge Is Always Right, Betch

tom.jpgIs it ever OK for an L.A. City Councilman to be an asshole? Yes, if his goal is retirement.

CurbedLA linked to an interesting post on Griffith Park, Interrupted regarding an incident between a local blogger and the self-proclaimed Mayor of Griffith Park. Short story: Griffith burned. BBQ’s were banned, then lifted. LaBonge said some people have no where else to get their grill on. A tax-paying citizen disagreed with lifting the ban because of the fire. LaBonge went Bob Knight on her. She blogged about it.

Now, agree or disagree with Griffith Park, Interrupted’s Donna Barstow. That is your right as a tax-paying citizen. The issue here is Griffith Park, and the fact that it does not belong to Tom. It is not Tom’s Park. Tom cannot go closing it and hiking alone whenever he wants. Tom cannot go planting non-native trees wherever he wants. Sure, he loves the park. But, so do I, and so does Donna. So do thousands of tax-paying citizens that visit Griffith every year. I give Donna credit for standing her ground. Someone needs to remind Tom that she is also voter, and that Griffith is her park, too.


Photo of Tom LaBonge, who recently lost his head

21 thoughts on “Tom LaBonge Is Always Right, Betch”

  1. Tom LaBonge is certainly an asshole, and probably always has been. When I usta edit his garbage column for a newspaper that featured his monthly mumblings, I should have charged him. From that time I also collected olde photos of him hamming it up from many years ago: no matter what the occasion—be it on a cell phone while driving, or acting the fool “beat poet” in Griffith park—Tom was obviously full of himself. (And yes, I still have files of these photos and many more.)

    Moreover, while at a benefit in highland park (hosted by a well-known river advocacy group for which I also contributed a fair amount of work), Tom made sure to be an asshole in person to anyone who dared to say “hello” to him during the dinner. And if anyone doubts his incorrigible incompetence, just remember that he was so daft as to state that the Hollywood sign is “our Eiffel Tower.” Imagine that: a bunch of plywood and planks thrown-up (yes, vomit does come to mind) to sell some land, compared to a revolutionary piece of architecture that was daring in more ways than merely its exposed frame.

    Tom is indeed a moron and a schmuck.

  2. I inadvertently deleted teh final phrase of a sentence from the above post:
    ‘Moreover, while at a benefit in Highland Park (hosted by a well-known river advocacy group for which I also contributed a fair amount of work), Tom made sure to be an asshole in person to anyone who dared to say “hello” to him during the dinner, that he did not know.’

  3. I had to read her blog. She drew a lot of ire for wanting BBQ’s banned in the comments that followed.

    I would disagree with her. The park is for everyone and as density keeps increasing and few places are built with patios, common areas or similar where is a family looking to be outside go? The picnic and BBQ are nice ways to be outside. I see nothing wrong with setting up designated BBQ areas and take steps to make them as safe as possible.

    I have to admit I was taken aback with her version of LaBonge interaction with her. Bustard backs it up with his own experiences. Wasn’t there a youtube or similar on him a while back? How does someone with such lacking people skills keep getting elected?

    Who is the bigger moron and schmuck? LaBonge or those who keep electing him and letting him act like that?

  4. I agree with the last comment—parks are for everyone and in a big city, we need to accomodate all kinds of use. I’ll bet that the Griffith Park Interrupted person has her own yard and place to barbeque, and probably cannot even imagine the overcrowded conditions poor immigrant families live in every day here in LA.

  5. Tom does have a booming voice. And I’m sure that there’s plenty to hassle him about. But if its because he’s “loud,” that’s a stretch.

    Donna writes, “LaBonge has made more requests than any other Councilperson in the city, for stop signs, speed bumps, extra lights, etc.”

    This is a bad thing? He can be denied. The DOT still needs to do studies before installing speedbumps. Its not as simple as Tom making a request, or even a demand, and the DOT complying. For the most part, it sounds like Tom is listening to what his constituents ask for.

    I think Tom himself is more sensitive about the risk of another Griffith Park fire than most. That said, BBQ areas are very unlikely to be the cause of a fire. The parks commission and fire experts will take a good look at where these are placed and how they are built.

    Donna makes no bones about having an agenda against any fire risk, but she ignores the reality that the asshole addicts who still need to fire up will still do it, in secret, and thus likely create and even larger fire risk.

    I agree LaBonge hasn’t recognized how insensitive his boasting of park hikes were at a time when the rest of the public was banned – his PR reps should have reeled him in and insisted he called the surveying walks or some shit – but beyond that I think you have a representative who truly loves his neighborhood and has no shame expressing it.

  6. Uh, when I didn’t have a place to barbecue I DIDN’T BARBECUE. I cannot understand the argument that people who don’t have their own NEED to use the park. It’s OK to risk burning it down for that?

  7. (And I say that totally unaware of whether barbecuing poses a particularly large risk of setting the park on fire, but assuming that fire is a likely cause of fire.)

  8. Annika, fire is clearly a likely cause of fire. And if having a designated BBQ area was a serious fire risk, then I’m sure there would be no designated BBQ area.

    People seem to forget that last year’s Griffith Park was likely started by a cigarette butt, not a BBQ. They seem to forget that other local fires have been started by downed power lines, crashed model airplanes, arson, and other tossed cigarette butts.

    If anyone can steer me to the case of a fire being caused by an out of control BBQ, especially in a designated area, lemme know.

  9. My point is Annika that we need to give outdoor options to people. BBQ’s can be allowed and set up to be minimal risk.

    Markland makes the better point regarding the addicts and other smokers being a bigger risk when they just toss their butts or drop matches.

    This city is is so far under the ideal green space the Feds wants to see I can’t justify more people being restricted from using the parks.

  10. Parks are for everyone IF THEY STILL EXIST, lkitsch. And no, you can’t go around doing everything you want in a park, or in public, for that matter. It’s a privilege to be able to use a public space in a moral manner.

    Thanks for watching my back over there, Will! Much appreciated.

    Annika, agree with you on this. Who says barbequeing is an inalienable right? It certainly stinks for everyone in the park who isn’t interested in eating at that moment – I won’t describe when I used to run on weekends and almost threw up- and is a major source of air pollutants. The ozone is always extra heavy above a BBQ spot.

    Hi, David. Yes, it was caused by a ciggie, and we should all be grateful that smoking is still allowed in the Greek, Zoo, Autry, etc. Smoking for all! But let me ask you: when visitors see all the BBQ pits going, either for themselves or others, do you think they would then hesitate even a tiny bit before lighting up themselves? I don’t think so.

    I agree that Tom is sensitive about fire, and I do think he is more a good person than bad. But he has so much power that even a little bad is dangerous. For instance, you might have a different experience with the DOT, but when I called them about all the traffic and street requests LaBonge has made, (this was 4 years ago) the process is pretty corrupt:
    They get a letter from the Councilman on his own letterhead paper.(!) Then they need 75% of the community to agree, in writing. In the case of speedbumps on Commonwealth, they talked to 12 people on the street, and 9 of them agreed in writing! And they count who shows up at a community meeting as totally representative of that community! Then they went out to measure the speed, which was clocked at 37mph, by some drivers, when it should have been 25mph. Then they built the speedbumps! Only, the street was too slanted to put 3 in a row, so they stretched them all the way down the street.

    So the almost 7000 drivers a day on this street – more now, since this was 4 years ago – are losing a little gas and getting more wear and tear on their cars because 9 people on that street (out of several thousand) signed the paper, and LaBonge pushed it through. Don’t underestimate the power of the Council in LA.

  11. “Who says barbequeing is an inalienable right? It certainly stinks for everyone in the park who isn’t interested in eating at that moment – I won’t describe when I used to run on weekends and almost threw up- and is a major source of air pollutants. The ozone is always extra heavy above a BBQ spot.”

    I don’t even know what to day about this. Come onnnnnnnn! The smell of a BBQ in the summer is one of the most wonderful things on earth, and I don’t even eat meat! Way to be a kill-joy…

  12. Donna, so your argument is that BBQs shouldn’t be allowed because you think it will encourage smokers to light up?

    And I think your beef should still be with the DOT and the system, not with Tom LaBonge asking for stuff more than other Councilmen – I bet constituents in other districts wish they were being looked out for as much as Tom. As for 7000+ drivers – do you really think a single one of them would say yes to speed bumps on a route they drive routinely? Thats as ludicrous an argument as asking crack addicts if there should be harsher penalties for drug dealers.

  13. Doona, get a grip please.

    Our parks need to be mixed use serving as many people as possible. I’m certainly not advocating it be a giant BBQ pit but I also see nothing wrong with a couple of designated areas for the BBQs. That way those that like to do it can and those that don’t can simply stay away from that area.

    My bigger point you missed is that we need to make it useful to as many as possible not fit just one persons idea on what the park should be.

    I don’t disagree LaBonge was rude. I wonder why he keeps coming back.

  14. Frazgo,

    You imply that only Donna’s wish to ban BBQs from Griffith Park is but one person’s idea. In this case, perhaps, but if so, it is no more than one other person’s idea—Tom’s—who wants the opposite for himself. And what Tom wants is far too dangerous in this almost unprecedented dry season.

    Oh, and I have the photos up, as someone e-mailed me implying I did not have any such shots.

  15. I found the blog in question unconvincing in demonstrating it’s negative point about Tom LeBonge. It seems from comments there and here that opinion breaks down into those that have an axe to grind against LaBonge and those that don’t. But that’s just my unsolicited observation.

  16. If you’re almost throwing up on your runs because you smell food, then your problems are deeper than any council person can handle.
    BBQ + Park = Perfect Weekend! Now add some fireworks and then it’s even better!

  17. I have to agree with aartvark, this isn’t really about the issue, it’s just that lots of people think Tom is a douche and now those people have something, so this can be a positive or a negative depending on how you see things.

    Browne via Bustard’s computer…

  18. Bustard I don’t know what I can do to make it any clearer. All I want is a good mixed use policy for the park. Outdoor space is at a premium in LA and we need to make it benefit everyone. In a park as big as Griffith it is entirely possible and reasonable that you could have an area for BBQ style picnics and minimize the hazard.

    I don’t agree with how LaBonge runs it. I understand Donna felt offended. I also understand that is a long running pattern with this council person.

    El Chavo…lots of fireworks for sale in my area, including ahem stuff under the table that only the pyro’s in the mid-west are supposed to have.

  19. Let’s take all the barbecues that everyone wants in Griffith Park for those underprivileged grillers (with the means to get up in them there hills to burn meat) and put them in a 48 grill x 48 grill grid in the Silver Lake Meadow! Not only is it closer, but it’s never gonna open. And even if it does we can toss those waterlogged “bird balls” covering the reservoirs at any fires that might get out of control.

    Plus the meadow’s in Councilman Garcetti’s domain and he doesn’t get all blowhardy at any who disagree with him.

    Problem solved!

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