29 May 2008

Silly Immigrants & Their Dumb Antics: Chickens, Goats and Pigs in the Heart of L.A.

Once predominantly African American, the area has seen an influx of Latino immigrants, along with their roosters, chickens and other barnyard beasts not typically part of the urban scene.
By Jessica Garrison, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 25, 2008
When her neighbor's roosters and chickens persisted in running through her yard, G. Stone took matters into her own hands.

She marched next door and issued a warning: Do something about the uninvited guests or the birds "were going in my pot."

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The incursions stopped. But Stone, a retired Los Angeles County librarian who lives northwest of Watts, shook her head in exasperation as she recalled the incident.

"I've lived here for 50 years," she said. "All of a sudden, there's an influx of chickens. You're not supposed to have chickens in the city."

For many, the image of South Los Angeles is that of a paved, parched, densely packed urban grid. But increasingly, it is also a place where untold numbers of barnyard animals -- chickens, roosters, goats, geese, ducks, pigs and even the odd pony -- are being tended in tiny backyard spaces.

"Most people don't realize just how many farm animals there are in the city," said Ed Boks, the general manager of the city's Animal Services department.

Indeed, about a block from the beauty parlor where Stone was getting her hair done earlier this month, a pair of goats chewed something dark and unidentifiable as they stood placidly near the traffic whizzing by on Avalon Boulevard. A pit bull next door eyed them lazily.

The cacophony of cock-a-doodle-doos south of the 10 Freeway is one of the louder manifestations of a demographic change that has transformed South Los Angeles in the last few decades.

Once primarily an African American community -- and still the cultural and political heart of the state's African American population -- the area has absorbed tens of thousands of immigrants from Mexico and Central America and is now predominantly Latino. In Southeast L.A., the black population has dropped from 71% in 1980 to 24% in the 2000 census; the Latino population grew from 27% in 1980 to 74% in 2000.

For some folks, the rooster has become a potent symbol of the way their neighborhood is changing.

"Sometimes, I think it's Mexico," said Tony Johnson, who lives in Southeast L.A. He confessed that after being roused early some mornings, he has fantasized about silencing the birds permanently. "Boom. Boom. Boom," he said, pantomiming how he would do it.

But a few blocks away, Jose Luiz, 43, seemed surprised that anyone would be bothered by the noise.

"It's natural to have roosters," he said as he surveyed a new community garden where corn, squash and tomatoes were growing. "I'm Mexican. We are accustomed to hearing them."

Zoning rules prohibit most of this husbandry, but overtaxed animal control officers rarely take action unless they get complaints.

Some of the birds may be being used in cockfighting. But animal control officers say most of the backyard roosters are not implicated in anything so sinister. They are simply part of the household, a hobby and a comfort for immigrants who hope to re-create a little piece of home in a faraway, foreign place.

Still, as deluged city officials and sleep-deprived residents have learned, one person's comfort is another's headache.

"I can't sleep," said Perry Partee, 55, who lives near Watts. He sternly dismissed the conventional wisdom that roosters crow at dawn; in fact, he said, they often get going much earlier.

Animal Services officials say there undoubtedly are more chickens and roosters in long-established Latino communities on the Eastside, such as Boyle Heights and El Sereno, where it is not unheard of to see flocks of the birds running down the sidewalk. But in those neighborhoods many residents are accustomed to, or at least not overly bothered by, the sights and sounds of free-roaming fowl.

In South Los Angeles, on the other hand, the crowing -- and bleating, quacking, honking, oinking and neighing -- has been a growing source of irritation, with callers lighting up city phone lines demanding that officials do something.

Take the recent rooster- related activities near 110th and Avalon.

An 11-year-old boy was chased home from school by a rooster, according to his mother, who did not want his name published.

Around the same time, on the same street, some roosters mysteriously disappeared out of a backyard, according to resident Dwight Johnson, who said the birds' owner walked up and down the street looking for them.

Animal Services Officer Jose Gonzalez, who patrols the southern part of the city, said he's getting around five calls a week about rooster noise. He's also had reports about a pig running down Central Avenue and a man who kept goats in his backyard and posted signs advertising slaughterhouse services.

Boks said Animal Services deals with about 150 reports of unauthorized slaughtering a year.

The rules about keeping animals in Los Angeles are complicated. For the most part, Animal Services officers rely on distance requirements, which vary from animal to animal. Roosters, for example, must be kept in an enclosed pen 20 feet from their owner's house and 100 feet from any neighbor's house. Other chickens, on the other hand, can be 35 feet from a neighbor's house, while horses must maintain a distance of 75 feet.

Because many Los Angeles lots are no larger than 100 feet long, it is physically impossible for many property owners there to legally keep roosters.

Hen-pecked by constituent calls about rooster noise, Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn recently proposed limiting each household to one rooster and setting up new procedures to deal with loud birds.

But animal control officers warn that they have a lot on their plates already, including vicious dogs, feral cats and thousands of stray animals crowding shelters, not to mention the occasional snake or bobcat.

The city employs 64 animal control officers to cover some 460 square miles; from May 1, 2007, through April 30, 2008, city shelters took in 628 farm animals, including 345 chickens, 11 goats and five pigs.

Officials vowed to keep studying the issue.

Officers will continue to respond when they get calls, and will investigate if they suspect cockfighting, animal cruelty or, as in the case of the freelance goat slaughterhouse, a health-and-safety issue.

Many residents, such as Stone, who was plagued by her neighbor's birds in her yard, took pains to stress that it was the roosters they deplored, not their owners.

Near where she spoke, the distinctive crow of an unseen bird cut through the noise of a police helicopter and the hum of traffic. Cock-a-doodle-doo, the bird cried. A moment later, a goose honked in response.


26 May 2008

L.A. County/City Workers: Overpaid & Underworked

"As a beneficiary, I loved government work. We hardly worked but kept getting pay and benefit raises. As a moralist, I just couldn't live with myself. So I left." Former Los Angeles County employee.

See: http://overpaidgov.blogspot.com/2008/05/la-government-workers-payroll-outrage.html

The L.A. Daily News has this editorial outrage:

Two points are made starkly clear by the information in today's Daily News stories about Los Angeles city salaries. The first is that much of the city's budget deficit can be directly attributed to soaring public-employee wages. The second is that city leaders knew they were putting L.A. into future financial jeopardy by agreeing to payroll raises last year - but did so anyhow.

Now that the city is facing a $406 million deficit for the fiscal year beginning in July, officials are suddenly feigning shock, as if the economic slowdown came as a total surprise. But the evidence shows quite clearly that economists and budget experts warned Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council about the looming economic slowdown more than a year ago.

Nonetheless, city leaders pushed up payroll costs - through an overly generous new contract and through programmatic salary "step" increases - by about $120 million last year. This, even though L.A.'s municipal workers are already the best compensated in the entire country.

Even now, when it's no longer possible to deny the economic slowdown, city leaders still aren't thinking about ways to contain payroll costs. Instead, they're focusing on building revenue - that is, finding new fees, taxes and other hidden costs to wring out of the public.

This is not a responsible way to operate a government.

Payroll costs for Los Angeles' 48,000 municipal employees account amount to $3.5billion, a number far too large for most non-economists to comprehend. That's why the Daily News has broken city salaries down to the employee, with the information available in a searchable database available at www.dailynews.com.

California law specifically notes that public-employee salaries are public information. Furthermore, when public officials make bad fiduciary decisions, the public has a right to know how its money is being misspent - down to the penny.

For example, figures in the billions might not bring home city leaders' bad choices in the same way as will the knowledge that some 6,000 city workers are paid between $100,000 and $200,000 a year - including two dozen members of the mayor's staff.

Then there are L.A.'s ranks of privately employed plumbers, machinists and painters, who ought to know that their taxes go to pay city government plumbers', machinists' and painters' salaries that are worth tens of thousands of dollars more per year than their own.

And with trash fees tripling over two years, it's instructive to know that those funds go to support the 158 employees at the Bureau of Sanitation who are paid more than $100,000 a year.

Civil service is out of whack in Los Angeles, and it will be as long as public-employee unions wield more political influence than the public itself.

Don't just be outraged; act on it. Armed with the information from this series, Angelenos ought to demand that their elected officials begin to correct imbalance of power.

Use the contact information below to call on city leaders before they try to squeeze even one more penny from the public.


14 December 2006

Without Govt, Some Guys Will Just Starve

I am walking around downtown L.A., and I see all these government "workers" (in name only) lounging about in the morning, mid-day and late afternoon. These guys are raking in great salaries and excellent benefits for doing very little.

Fat and lazy, these government employees spend their time coveting each other's future pension benefits. In the interim, they don't pick up the phone when it rings; they deliver services with a grunt (if you're lucky) or a vicious sneer.

LA County employees are the worst.

Without government, these obese and unskilled morons will literally starve away, or possibly riot.


21 May 2008

Gas to Rise to $7 per Gallon

We told you so two years ago. Search the archives of the Fairbank Report for "$3 Gas is Cheap."

There is NO supply issue. OPEC is holding back on production and reaping huge profits. It seems that economic axioms are falling every day. Classical economics argues that cartels are inherently unstable and unsustainable. So far, the oil cartel has proven quite robust as the price per barrel of oil has rocketed to an all-time high of $132; it was $11 per barrel in 1999!!

18 May 2008


This story was reported as a side piece on National Public Radio (NPR) this morning. The story is uncorroborated. But here it is...

Source: http://www.truthfromfacts.com/2008/05/18/earthquake-baby-kept-alive-with-protection-from-mothers-body/

Earthquake Baby Kept Alive with Protection from Mother’s Body

This is a bittersweet story that has emerged from the Sichuan earthquake tragedy (see video in Chinese). When a house collapsed on a mother and her 3 to 4 month old infant, the mother protected the baby’s body with hers by kneeling prostrate over the baby. When rescuers arrived 5 days later, on May 17, they found the mother had been crushed to death, but that the baby was sleeping peacefully - alive. Shortly thereafter they found the mother’s cellphone, where she had written the text message to her baby that read “My dear baby, if you live, you must remember that I love you.”

10 May 2008

"Carrier" on PBS

By Bian-lian Huang (The King of Masks)

It has been about two years since we last reviewed a film at the Fairbank Report, so you know this series is worth watching.

About two weeks ago, PBS featured a new ten-part series on the life and work of the crew of the USS Nimitz. Overall, it is an excellent piece of story-telling about the boredom, thrills, mistakes, challenges and misdeeds of the service personnel on the Nimitz. Artistically well-crafted and incredibly edited, "Carrier" sets the technical and artistic standards for documentaries for years to come.

One quibble in regard to Part Ten. The overly emotional scene of the young sailor's break-up with his (beautiful) pregnant Asian girlfriend seems "soap opera-ish." I am sure the episodes of flowing tears actually occurred and the emotions were raw and genuine, but the fact that there's cameraman shooting during such a private moment smacks of contrivance.

If you missed it, I am sure PBS will re-run it soon or during pledge month.

Highly recommended.

07 May 2008


It is true that the MSM have devastated the campaign of one Hillary Evita "Madame Nhu" Clinton while they have carried the water for the inexperienced junior senator from Illinois. Why have they done this? And more importantly, how did they get away with exercising so much UNCHECKED power?

If they treated Mrs Clinton this poorly, then Juan McCan't (John McCaine) is toast!

Breaking: Hillary to Withdraw Very Soon

The Fairbank Group's Political and Economic Intelligence Unit projects that Senator Hillary Clinton will withdraw from the bid for the Democratic Party's nomination for President within a week's time.

So Barack Hussein Osama is the Democratic Party's standard bearer in 2008. My, how the times have changed.