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Monday, October 10, 2011

Los Angeles just became a more dangerous place

California's impending overcrowded prison release program- 1000's of state prisoners will be transferred to LA County's already overcrowded jails, forcing the county and city to release prisoners early and putting pressure on the maxed-out probation dept.

Pajamas Media » Cascade Effect: California’s Prison Release Program

"The greatest share of these prisoners, up to 7,000 of them, are expected to be transferred to jails in Los Angeles County, which, according to the Los Angeles Daily News, have only 4,000 vacant beds. This influx of felons will have a cascade effect, necessitating the early release of county prisoners doing time for misdemeanors and those convicted of felonies but serving jail time as a condition of their probation. And already county jail prisoners are serving only about 20 percent of their sentences behind bars."

http://feeds.latimes.com/~r/latimes/news/local/~3/iXKkx3E0DMo/la-me-brown-guns-20111011,0,5655548.story

Second reason for LA becoming a more dangerous place is the just-passed CA law banning open carry of unloaded guns:



"Governor cites police support in signing bill that puts California at odds with relaxed measures sweeping the U.S. 2nd Amendment activists predict a surge in concealed-weapons permits. With the announcement early Monday that he had outlawed the public display of handguns in California, Gov. Jerry Brown bucked a national trend toward more lenient firearms laws and placed himself in the political cross-hairs of the state's 2nd Amendment activists."

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2011/10/gov-jerry-brown-puts-limits-on-dui-checkpoints.html

3rd reason is:
'Police agencies in California will no longer be able to freely impound cars from sober but unlicensed drivers who are stopped at drunk-driving checkpoints under legislation signed Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown...




'Under the new law written by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), if a sober driver is caught at a DUI checkpoint without a valid license, law enforcement officers must release the car to a qualified driver representing the registered owner. In cases where a legal driver is not readily available, AB 353 says, the vehicle is to be released to one later at the impound yard.'

The two new CA laws passed by Governor Brown plus the U.S Supreme Court ordering CA prisons to relieve overcrowding of CA state prisons means that los angeles will become a much more dangerous place in 2012.

Also add to above reasons a heated divisive potentially explosive presidential election year and the local economy expected to have a double-dip recession. Plus LA unemployment rates remaining around 14-15% plus continued $3.50-$4.00 per gallon gas prices. And a potential big influx of illegals leaving Arizona, Alabama and other states which are cracking down on illegal immigration and pouring into CA, which just threw out a big welcome mat for illegals with the just-passed CA DREAM ACT.

Also there was a recent decision of the CA 9th Circuit court which reversed an earlier CA Court decision banning day laborers from hanging out in front of business soliciting work.

Los Angeles will become a more dangerous and even a largely lawless city in 2012. It has always been a high crime gang-ridden ghetto-polis cesspool but the crime and general lawlessness will spike even further. Be prepared for the worst.




Friday, October 07, 2011

Touring CA in a Recession-post 4. Incident with park rangers

My fourth post of my 7 day CA trip in Sept 2011. Here i do an entire post on an unfortunate incident with National Park Rangers patrolling Sequoia-King Canyon National Park. It occurred right after i had left from Grant Grove Village and was heading toward Giant Forest section of the park. It ended with an amiable parting of the ways and no harm done.

I left Grant Grove and went back along route 180/198 in direction of of Giant Forest. It is Monday mid-afternoon Sept 5th, last day of labor day weekend, and the park is emptying of visitors real fast.
When i got to intersection of 180/198 I took a wrong turn and ended up almost back at the park entrance. I did a turn around and went back in right direction, reached the intersection again and made the correct turn this time.

Only thing is I failed to stop completely and did not know there was a stop sign there, or missed seeing it. It may be because i was tired after being on road 6 hrs straight, driving 300 miles coming from northern CA, and my road alertness was off (I didn't get my usual coffee fix). I was rather beat up and looking ragged after five days on the road, staying at rough campsites last four nights. As i made the CA rolling stop i was spotted by National Park rangers in their white and green SUV headed in the opposite direction.

They turned around and followed me for a short distance and then came the inevitable flashing lights. I pulled over to stop and 2 park rangers came out of their vehicle and approached my vehicle. I need to point out that i am a veteran experienced delivery driver and have been stopped many times by police in LA for traffic violations so i did not panic or get upset. I was only dismayed somewhat by being pulled over in a scenic national park while i was on vacation.

The rangers told me i had just gone thru a stop sign at intersection of 180/198. But they and i knew that i had slowed down sufficiently and carefully at the stop and my actions were not intentional . It was more likely i was unaware of the stop sign, missed it accidentally, or had travelers disorientation. It is important to note here that i was rather tired and maybe a bit disoriented after a long drive and also me and my pickup both looked rather rough and grimy after five days on the road .

This may have been the real reason the rangers followed me and stopped me. The rangers treated me rather suspiciously at first as if they thought i was bent on some type of criminal intent while passing thru the park. Also, It was unusual to have a park visitor arriving right after labor day and perhaps they suspected me of being a courier and/or scout for a drug cartel looking to plant pot in the mountains( CA has a huge problem with illegal marijuana farms in all it's parks/national forest mountainous regions).

Whatever the reason for the stop one of the park rangers proceeded to do a partial search of my truck's passenger side interior, and ran an ID/ license check on me. I did put up a polite but nonetheless assertive objection to this rather inqusitive search high up in the mountains while i was on vacation.

My being somewhat cooperative( though putting up mild objections) was surprising in and of itself, as i have in past traffic stops behaved rather badly and rudely to law enforcement officers. That has always landed me in hot water with both cops and the traffic court judges. It is unwise to bicker at cops during a traffic stop, even if you are absolutely certain that you committed no wrong. Cops are human and vindicative, as i have learned from long and bitter experience dealing in the brutal, often unfair, money-hungry CA Superior Court Traffic Division.

As these were park rangers and not the usual urban city police officers i was given a bit more leeway and able to assert myself a bit more against the pullover. In Los Angeles i have been stopped over 20 times and never had my vehicle searched. I knew i could make a big protest over this likely illegal search but as i had nothing to hide i allowed the rangers to search my vehicle. They would find out soon enough that i was just joe traveler on a CA car camping trip. What they were attempting to find out is if it was just that or i was on another more sinister mission.

After a few minutes of vehicle searching and somewhat friendly bantering with the rangers they seemed to relax their attitude toward me a bit. I told them frankly that they were searching the wrong person as i was politically to the right, a right-wing blogger/tweeter with Tea Party sympathies( I am not officially with the Tea Party but share many of their aims). I told them that I was your normal everyday law-abiding US citizen on a CA getaway road trip, or words to that effect.

After they they found out i had conservative views I lectured them a bit on the fact that in my home city of Los Angeles they could not conduct a license ID check on a truckfull of illegal aliens just arrived the day before from across the border without the ACLU, illegal alien activists, and even LA politicians coming down on them. The rangers appeared dismayed. I further lectured them on the criminal realities of CA and LA and how i wrote frequently on my blogsite about the gritty criminal aspects of third world ghettoized Los Angleles. They completely backed off, gave me slack and even an unexpected but captive audience as i ranted on the gangster-ridden, graffiti-infested nature of Los Angeles, of which i am a world authority and blogsite publicist. They did not issue me a ticket.

I was not really all that upset about N.P rangers doing a rather inquisitive and legally questionable stop, search and ID check on me ( I was after all on a vacation getaway and had just entered into a really spectacular scenic CA national park so I was not all that stressed). I also understand the realities and stresses of law enforcement and the phychological profiles of law enforcment officers. I have plenty of experience with being stopped by police officers for annoying traffic citations in LA , due to long experience as an express delivery driver. Most of the time officers are polite and if you treat them with respect and don't hassle them they may even let you off on a ticket. I have had that happen more than once, though in most cases I was issued the citation.

I have competed my 'interlude with National Park Rangers section', a sort of digression from my CA trip log. It was a bit unsettling to be stopped by park rangers and searched while i was on vacation but i was soon on my way to the best car/ rv camping site in the Western Sierras. I would hopefully get over this unfortunate park ranger incident quickly, though there would be one more incident before i left the park. I am normally not the tin foil conspiracy type but perhaps I was being targeted and tracked by a federal government agency. Note: The park had indeed emptied out as i have alluded to previously, due to the severe CA great recession. Even Grant Grove Village, normally a swarming beehive of visitors year-round, had at most three dozen mostly exiting campers/visitors, and 1/4 of the folk at the village were park/ concession staff.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Touring California in a near-depression: post 3

I am continuing down the 41 hwy headed toward Fresno on a hot baking 100% mid-morning. I have a small ice bucket with cold water and a cold soda at my side. Also a headband soaked in icy water on my head. Am driving thru miles and miles of flat farm fields. After a 1/2 hr drive I spot a shady tree-lined road which borders a new real estate tract. I stop next to the real estate office which is closed on labor day Sunday. I get out to splash the cold ice bucket water over my head to cool me down as i am going the CA central valley in a simmering heat wave in late summer. There are no travelers on the road.

Not much to see along the route 41 drive from Oakhurst to Fresno outer city limits- just miles and miles of endless monotonous farm fields Occasionally I see a well-tended tidy ranch-style home off the road but keep going.

I finally enter the Fresno outer city limits, get off Herndon Avenue and head east, wishing to avoid the Fresno densely populated inner city urban areas. I have lived virtually all my life in the dense urban LA region and wanted to avoid that. I go east along a road with lots of modern suburban bldgs, malls and businesses. Guess i got off a little too close to Fresno urban area. I am now entering Clovis, which is a prosperous tidy suburban outlier at NE corner of Fresno. I make a turn south on Clovis Road and keep going till i get on Hwy 180 ,the Kings Canyon Road, and head east on way to Sequoia- King Canyon National Parks.

There was a long stretch of this highway which was being re-worked/ widened. Why? It is used only heavily on three summer holiday weekends. This is just one of 100's of CA highway 'improvement' projects going on all over the state. It is funded by Federal recovery/re-investment stimulus funds in conjunction with Caltrans/CA infrastructures bonds. These costly boondoggle projects appear to be inching along at snails pace in most cases as State/Federal dollars trickle in. Feds and CA both have budgetary deficit problems and these projects are budget busters. Furthermore, these road projects are mostly done with heavy road machinery so they don't generate a whole lot of jobs, the real need in a 20-25% UE state.

After a short drive I stop at the remarkable Blossom Trail Fruit Stand on corner of Reed Avenue and hwy 180. It was packed with customers even in midday 100% heat in middle of empty farm country east of Fresno. There were 30-40 folks standing in line and they had traveled way out this way to get inviting fresh fruit at .99 cents per lb. Plums, apricots, peaches, apples, ect. were lined up neatly along rows, packed in open boxes. Just pick em out and take them to the checker. There was this neat stone-built watering and wishing well you could wash your fruit in ,or yourself, which i did. It was a neat setup.

I left and kept going east along 180 and after a long drive thru extensive farmlands and orchards i arrive at Squall Valley( not the ski resort). This rural farming township of around 3000 population has suffered from the great recession. I saw lots of ravaged beaten down bldgs and the countryside had a depressed ragged look. Must have been much reckless real estate speculation prior to 2007 in this last town you pass thru before reaching the national park. Lots of local businesses likely shuddered as tourism dried up due to twin blows of recession and high gas prices. I stopped to get gas at the still functioning local gas stop & trading mart. It is the last gas fill-up before you head up into the park.


I am now heading up the Sierra Nevada western slope oak foothill /grassland country, a pleasant relaxing drive thru a scenic part of CA. There are views of rolling oak parklands interspersed with occasional farm bldgs, country residences, and grazing cattle and horses. Route 180 ascends up a fairly straight low-angle slope along a big natural mountain ramp, which takes the traveler almost to the northern entrance to the park. It is fairly easy on the travelers gas budget and nerves, though i find the southern entrance route 198(Generals Highway) much more scenic but far steeper, with many more sharp curving turns.

After a while i get to the Parks north entrance near 180/198 junctions. I pay the $20 park fee and after a further two miles driving i reach Grant Grove Village, a pleasant scenic national park stopover. It is situated close to the Grant Grove Sequoia Grove and has a complete suite of facilities for the park visitor and camper. I prefer Lodgepole for a car campsite but Grant Grove's three camping sites are almost as good. There is a good coffee-house type restaurant at Grant Grove, really the only halfway decent reasonably- priced eatery in the entire dual park system. I always stop for breakfast or lunch there on way to or from kings Canyon, which is in Kings Canyon National Park, a separate entity from Sequoia N.P. Most folks will look at maps and consider them as a single entity titled Sequoia-Kings Canyon N.P. I have much to say about King Canyon, which is well worth a 1 or 2 day side trip. The granite domes, spires, cliffs and buttes of Kings Canyon are almost as inspiring as the more famous Yosemite granite monoliths. On this particular trip i will bypass the canyon as i am pressed for time , have only two more days left and will spend it entirely in the Lodgepole/Giant forest area of Sequoia N.P.


I asked the excellent well-staffed Grant Grove Visitor Center and Museum about available campsites at Lodgepole, the most popular campsite in the entire park. They said there were 150 sites available(out of 212). I was surprised that the site had emptied out so quickly on the last day of labor day holiday weekend, Monday Sept 5th. Apparently the bleak California economy had forced most folks to leave on last day of the labor day weekend. In normal times Lodgepole would never have cleared out so quickly and thoroughly. I would have the entire park to myself.

This completes the third installment of my CA travel log. I am at Grant Grove Village, taking a brief rest before heading up into Lodgepole and the Giant Forest section of Sequoia National Park. Note: I have been to this fabulous park 20 times and i still love it. It is not as crowded as Yosemite, even in summer. It has magnificent sequoia trees and cold gushing rivers to wade in. It is deeply forested but also has a few trails which climb up into the real sierra high country granite and lakes region. It has few fancy facilities or amenities, no malls. and few shops. There are only two gas stations in entire park and they are hard to locate. It has few frills but that's why i like this park. I have been coming here forever. I have hiked almost every trail in this park and know it far better than most of the park rangers and staff.