My hat is off to those Anaheim firefighters who busted out the windows of a car some dimwit parked in front of a fire hydrant last week.
Their only alternative was to let a building burn while waiting for a line to be laid from another hydrant.
As a check of the internet revealed, this is not the first time this has happened in the U.S.
Not parking in front of a fire hydrant is one of those things that should be obvious.
It happened in Mojave
We had a similar situation in Mojave back in the mid-fifties.
The alley between Sierra Highway and K Street and Inyo and Panamint divided a number of businesses. In those days that big parking lot between the former Reno’s Restaurant and Gardner Realty was covered by several bars, the liquor store run by Woody Woodmansee and his wife, and a barber shop.
As a young reporter, I responded one evening to a fire in one of the buildings on the Sierra Highway side. The alley was full of illegally parked cars that were blocking the firefighters.
Did I mention that the wind was also blowing?
In those days most cars were stick shift, which meant they couldn’t be just pushed out of the way, especially when the brakes were on.
To solve this problem cars had “wind wings,” on the front doors in those pre-A/C days. Opening them would allow access to the hand brake and gear shift.
A young deputy sheriff named Tom Shuell, who later retired as a commander after a distinguished career, used his sap, a weapon made of leather and lead, to bust out the driver’s side wind wings on enough of the parked cars to allow the firefighters to do their jobs.
None of the drivers complained because most of them would probably have ended up in jail on a drunk in public charge in addition to illegal parking.
Stealing from the dead
I also saw Tom dispense some desert justice to a thief he observed removing a gold ring from the finger of a man lying dead on what was then Highway 6, today’s Sierra Highway, just south of Rosamond.
The man had been killed in one of the many car crashes we had in those days before safety belts, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and safer motor vehicles and highways.
Tom’s reaction when he spotted the thief was to deck his butt with a roundhouse punch, followed by a pair of handcuffs and a charge of stealing from the dead.
It was much more entertaining than anything I have ever seen on TV or in the movies.
I’m sure that had these events occurred now both would have been recorded on cell phones, charges would probably be filed against Tom, and lawyers and other misguided do-gooders and bottom-feeders would be swarming.
I’m not one of those old guys who pines for the “Good Old Days,” but they did have their moments.
Speeding up meetings
California City council meetings have always been long, which is why when the late Jim Quiggle hired me to run the Mojave Desert News years ago, I took the job on the condition that I did not have to cover them.
Jim, one of the best people I ever worked with or for, kept his word. The only Council meeting I ever covered was due to a death in a reporter’s family.
As I’ve noted here before, I have calluses on my rear from all the public meetings I have conducted, attended, participated in and covered in my four-score and change years.
That experience has resulted in some lessons I try to observe when chairing meetings.
First, be prepared, which means reading the agenda and praying that your colleagues have read their own.
Which includes staff.
Spotting folks who have not read agendas is easy. They’re the one who ask dumb questions whose answers are in the agenda.
Time for public comment can be a mine field, one in which many Cal City mayors have suffered.
The best way to handle this is to follow the example of former Mayor Larry Adams.
Larry never argued with speakers. When they finished he thanked them and referred their suggestions to staff.
Keep a fair leash on the meeting, which can be done without upsetting all but those who come to meetings hoping to be upset.
Many meetings have these folks. When I was a reporter, I found that when they got up to speak, it was a good time for a potty break.
Democracy, as Sir Winston Churchill reminded us, is a very bad form of government but all the others are much worse.
Please don’t try to disprove this when you attend public meetings.
Pork or progress?
Back when the GOP took control of Congress a few years ago one of the first things they did was to end something called “earmarks.”
Used correctly, earmarks allow Members of Congress to serve the people they represent by inserting budget language appropriating funds for specific projects in their districts.
Our congressman, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, used this process, also known as “directed appropriations,” to fund necessary construction projects at Edwards Air Force Base, the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Center, and the Mojave Air & Spaceport.
Thanks to some members who used this process to fund questionable projects like a “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” earmarks became a frequent target of folks concerned that the money was being used primarily to make the Member look good, which undoubtedly was true in some cases, which led to earmarks being called “pork” by opponents.
McCarthy always reported his earmarks in news releases so we could see how our money was being spent.
Earmarks are also a valuable tool for congressional leadership to bring renegade lawmakers into line.
Eliminating them backfired on the GOP congressional leaders who engineered the change.
Earmarks might be included in this year’s budgets, and I for one would like to see them return, along with language to ensure they are used wisely, as were McCarthy’s.
Slowing fast food
Off the subject, but fast-food firm webpages have become annoyingly useless unless one is willing to log in to them, which delays the process and qualifies the user for more of the inedible form of spam.