(Editor’s note: A reader sent the following November 13 story by Daniel Guss, who poses questions about the fire under the 10 Freeway and inspections that should be answered by L.A. City leaders.)
By DANIEL GUSS (@TheGusReport on Twitter – Let the finger pointing begin!)
Stretching from Santa Monica to Jacksonville, portions of Interstate 10 have memorial signs that remind us of important Americans like Rosa Parks, or just famous ones like Sonny Bono, along the way.
Thanks to a weekend inferno underneath a portion of it in Los Angeles, we are reminded of toast. As in burned to a crisp, along with Engine 17 for starters.
Already, you can see the beginning of the finger pointing, like which government agencies are responsible for conditions that led to the blaze that as of Monday morning have shut down the critical roadway for the foreseeable future.
The truth depends on what part of the location you’re referring to: the freeway; the road underneath it, the leased (and possibly uninspected) area where the pallets were stored.
It’s a jurisdictional orgy of corruption!
But ultimately, it traces back to the LAFD, Mayor Karen Bass, her predecessor Eric Garcetti, undue union influence and the LA Times.
In 2016, I exclusively reported that there was corruption in the Los Angeles Fire Department’s Fire Inspection Bureau, and that the LA Times didn’t tell the full story.
In short, then-Mayor Eric Garcetti wanted union dollars to run for president. The union bosses didn’t like the fact that someone was digging into a backlog of thousands of fire inspections and wanted him removed from that assignment. Otherwise, we would discover that addresses that were past due for inspections were deleted from the list. Or not inspected for years. Or how some fire inspection personnel abused the overtime process. For its part, the Times was, and remains, a public relations agency for local politicians who align with its agenda.
Hillel Aron at the LA Weekly ran the September 2016 story (“Was Fire Marshal John Vidovixh Taken Out by the Firefighters Union – with the Mayor’s Tacit Approval?”) click here, which reported that “Vidovich changed overtime rules, making it harder to work on days off and accrue more hours. He also updated the bureau’s recordkeeping system.
“In doing so, Vidovich’s office discovered that there were upward of 10,000 properties in the city that were overdue for inspection. And so Vidovich instituted ‘Operation Catch-up,’ a full-scale inspection blitz that asked inspectors to work harder and more efficiently in order to clear those 10,000 properties. . . .”
The LAFD continued to hide fire inspection records from this column, so I will remind you that back when current LAFD Chief Kristin Crowley was Fire Marshal, she worked with the mayor and unions to not publish past-due fire inspections.
Now, the LAFD’s public information team is putting out propaganda clips of a concerned Crowley with Bass and California Governor Gavin Newsom surveying the damage.
Don’t buy it for a second.
Karen Bass’s hands aren’t clean here, either.
Since she came into office a year ago, this column exclusively reported that there was pure chaos among LAFD brass, including the story behind why Chief Deputy Armando Hogan, Bass’s choice for the next chief, suddenly opted for retirement and how recorded homicidal and suicidal threats by Assistant Chief Kristina “Kady” Kepner didn’t keep Crowley from promoting her…until I exposed that the LAPD covered up another incident involving her and an LAPD detective.
As a result of this reporting, the LAPD and LAFD suddenly decided to “re-open” their investigations and, therefore, block my access to those and other public records.
When the LAPD and LAFD hide public records from this column, they grin like the Cheshire Cat while endangering the public.
Since promotion to the highest ranks of the LAFD is based on sexual preference more than experience, knowledge and merit, things like fire inspections get shoved to the back burner, so to speak.
So when the government mucky-mucks start explaining what caused the weekend inferno, here is what you will want to listen for as you find other ways to get around the charred remains of this portion of the 10:
1. When was the last time that this location was inspected and where are all of the dated inspection reports and follow-ups?
2. What did the reports indicate and where is the proof that the LAFD followed-up within 30 days?
3. How high were the pallets stacked, which depends on whether they were wood or plastic? (Fire Fun Fact: Plastic pallets should not be stacked as high as wood pallets.)
4. Were the pallets kept separate from other structures, which should be between 20 and 30 feet?
5. Were there aisleways between the stacks and, if so, how wide were they?
6. And most importantly, was the site legally occupied and did the LAFD ensure that it had a current fire prevention plan and security management plan from the owner or occupant? If so, were are they and the pre-inferno inspection photos?
Because if this column knows these things, it means that the LAFD should have been on top of it.
It apparently wasn’t.
Karen Bass already has plenty of evidence to fire Chief Crowley (and other LAFD brass) for mismanagement, only some of which has been told (so far) in this column. Now she has no excuse not to terminate her which, in government speak, means giving her a gold watch and a lucrative pension.
They all continue to lie, cheat, waste and endanger us.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a multi-award-winning journalist. In June ‘23, he won the LA Press Club’s “Online Journalist of the Year” and “Best Activism Journalism” awards. He has been City Editor for the Mayor Sam network, and a featured contributor for CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, KCRW 89.9 FM, KRLA 870 AM, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star-News, Los Angeles Downtown News and the Los Angeles Times in its sports, opinion, entertainment and Sunday Magazine sections among other publishers. Follow Guss on Twitter @TheGussReport.)