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.

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