Monthly Archives: January 2009

Gangs not a problem, a Culture

Do you know why you do not feel safe in Los Angeles?
Because you’re not!

The Gang Problem in Los Angeles is the worst it has been in 30 years.
What you’re being told is a lie; they care more about numbers than safety.

Because their solutions are based on false facts and false numbers those solutions are doomed to failure. As a result, millions of dollars are wasted on failed programs or even worse, schemes intended to enrich the very gangs they were meant to fight!

I want to educate you on the problem and then you will be in a position to determine who is best qualified to achieve a solution.

Before we get into the facts, it is vital you know what we are really up against. We are not dealing with a “gang problem”; we are dealing with a “Gang Culture.” This difference is critical and no solution will be successful regardless of how many millions of dollars are spent or how many non-profits are set up. This is a bit of a read, but unless you are armed with the truth, you and your family are in danger.

What is a Culture?

“The word culture comes from the Latin root colere, to inhabit, cultivate, or honor. In general it refers to human activity; different definitions of culture reflect different theories for understanding, or criteria for valuing human activity.

In 1952 Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of over 200 different definitions of culture in their book, Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. They see culture as a “complex web of shifting patterns that link people in different locales, and link social formations of different scales.”

The popular use of the word culture in many Western societies reflects the fact that these societies are stratified. Many use the word culture to refer to elite consumption goods and activities such as fine cuisine, art, and music. Some label this as “high” culture to distinguish it from “low” culture, meaning non-elite consumption goods and activities.

18th and early 19th century scholars and many people today often identify culture with “civilization” and opposed to “nature.” Thus, people lacking elements of “high culture” were often considered to be more “natural,” and contrarily elements of high culture were often criticized, or defended, for repressing human nature.

By the late 19th century, anthropologists argued for a broader definition of culture that they could apply to a wide variety of societies; they began to argue that culture is human nature, and is rooted in the universal human capacity to classify experiences and encode and communicate them symbolically.

Consequently, people living apart from one another develop unique cultures, but elements of different cultures can easily spread from one group of people to another.

Anthropologists have thus had to develop methodologically and theoretically useful definitions of the word. Technically, anthropologists distinguish between material culture and symbolic culture, not only because each reflects different kinds of human activity but because they constitute different kinds of data that require different methodologies.

As a rule, archeologists focus on material culture, and cultural anthropologists focus on symbolic culture, although ultimately both groups are interested in the relationship between these two dimensions. Moreover, anthropologists understand “culture” to refer not only to consumption goods, but to the general processes by which such goods are produced and given meaning, and the social relationships and practices in which such objects and processes are embedded.

In the early 20th century anthropologists understood culture to refer not to a set of discrete products or activities (whether material or symbolic) but rather to underlying patterns of products and activities. Moreover, they assumed that such patterns were clearly bounded (thus, some people confuse “culture” for the society that has a particular culture).

In smaller societies in which people were divided by age, gender, household, and descent group, anthropologists believed that people more or less shared the same set of values and conventions. In larger societies in which people were further divided by region, race or ethnicity and class, they believed that members of the same society often had highly contrasting values and conventions. Thus they used the term subculture to identify the cultures of parts of larger societies. Since subcultures reflect the position of a segments of society vis-à-vis other segments and the society as a whole, they often reveal processes of domination and resistance.

Cultural studies developed in the late 20th century, in part through the reintroduction of Marxist thought in sociology, and in part through the articulation of sociology and other academic disciplines such as literary criticism, in order to focus on the analysis of subcultures in capitalist societies.

Following the non-anthropological tradition, cultural studies generally focus on the study of consumption goods (such as fashion, art, and literature). Because the 18th and 19th century distinction between “high” and “low” culture is not appropriate to the mass-produced and mass-marketed consumption goods with which cultural studies is concerned, these scholars refer instead to popular culture.

Today some anthropologists have joined the project of cultural studies. Most, however, reject the identification of culture with consumption goods. Furthermore, many now reject the notion of culture as bounded, and consequently reject the notion of subculture. Instead, they see culture as a complex web of shifting patterns that link people in different locales, and link social formations of different scales.”

Question: Are you aware of any civilization which has successfully eradicated a culture?

We are dealing with a Gang Culture; a culture with its own language, dress, music, movies and code of conduct.

As outlined above it has spread into the mainstream and is not only accepted and embraced, but emulated.

As with any other Culture it has evolved. Why dress in a manner that will get you arrested when you can operate in plain sight wearing a suit and tie. Why us a gun to steal $100 and go to jail when you can use a stolen ID to steal $100,000 and get probation.

Yes there are known gang members wearing baggy clothes and baseball caps, but there are twice as many unknown gang members wearing slacks and sport shirts. Thanks to well-meaning hospitals, the traditional tattoo markings that identified gang members are being removed for free.

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Yes on Solar-No on Prop B

Analysis calls ambitious L.A. solar

plan ‘extremely risky’

An outside consultant says Measure B, which easily made the March 3 ballot, is more costly than portrayed by the city’s Department of Water and Power.

By David Zahniser

December 19, 2008

When members of the Los Angeles City Council agreed last month to put an ambitious solar energy plan on the March 3 ballot, they talked effusively about their desire for cleaner air and “green” technology jobs — the kind that could boost the economy during a recession.

What they didn’t discuss was an analysis by a city-hired consulting firm that called the solar plan “extremely risky” and considerably more expensive than was being portrayed by the Department of Water and Power.

Measure B, which calls for unionized DWP workers to install solar panels on rooftops and parking lots across the city, sailed onto the ballot with a unanimous vote. But days earlier, the council’s top policy advisor was so troubled by the proposal that, in an e-mail to Council President Eric Garcetti, he recommended that the council delay it until a future election.

After receiving the analysis from the consulting firm, Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller warned Garcetti that the solar measure could result in “substantial increases” to the electricity bills of DWP customers.

Neither Miller nor Garcetti made those findings part of the public record. Since then, Miller’s office has rebuffed requests from The Times for a copy of the consulting firm’s analysis, saying the state’s public records law allows city officials to withhold any document that would reveal the “deliberative process” between the council and its chief legislative analyst.

Miller said Thursday he is no longer worried about the cost, as long as the DWP can secure $1.5 billion in solar tax credits. But he said the agency still must deal with other findings from the consultant, which concluded that the utility “does not have the planning mechanisms and resources in place” to accomplish the solar plan.

Garcetti, for his part, said the consulting firm’s findings were not made part of the record because they were among several opinions that he solicited informally on the ballot measure. Solar industry experts disagreed with the numbers produced by the consultant, he said.

“They said that this [ballot measure] was absolutely doable and that that [the consultant’s analysis] was wrong.”

Still, foes of Measure B said the findings confirm their worst suspicions about the measure — and the process used to get it on the ballot.

Opponents have called Measure B a backdoor mechanism to make voters sign off on a huge package of DWP rate increases. And they accused Garcetti and Miller of concealing the findings of the private analysts, P.A. Consulting Group.

“That’s the problem with City Hall,” said former DWP Commission President Nick Patsaouras, who opposes Measure B and is running for city controller. “They think the average taxpayer is not smart enough to tell them the truth.”

In a Nov. 4 e-mail obtained by The Times, Miller told Garcetti that he entered into a “quick contract with a very reputable firm” to study the solar plan at Garcetti’s request. He offered to keep the analysis from other council members even as he complained that DWP officials had failed to do their own thorough analysis of the measure. “It concerns me greatly that the department did not come forward with this information themselves,” Miller wrote. “It would have been as available to them as it was to me.”

Miller later concluded: “Since this request came directly from you, I am not sharing this with [Councilwoman] Wendy [Greuel] or the other members until you clear it.”

Garcetti said he later gave Miller permission to give the findings to other council members — and would not have voted to place the measure on the ballot if he thought the findings were accurate.

Still, Councilman Bernard C. Parks, who heads the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said he never received the findings — and wished that he had.

“If this is accurate information, or at least a point of view, the council should get the chance to ferret through this,” Parks said.

The DWP has already agreed to impose increases of nearly 24% on electricity bills between 2006 and 2010. DWP officials contend the solar plan would lead to rate hikes of no more than 4% for the average household, and that those would occur no sooner than 2011.

But according to a one-page summary attached to Miller’s e-mail, P.A. Consulting Group warned that ratepayers could face annual surcharges of up to 12% per year if Measure B passes.

The analysis also said that the solar plan would cost $3.6 billion, not the $1.5 billion suggested by DWP General Manager H. David Nahai.

“Bottom line is they do not believe that the department can deliver on this program at all, and that the costs associated with the program are way understated,” Miller wrote in his e-mail to Garcetti.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and council members have embraced the solar plan, which was spearheaded by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the union that represents DWP employees. Under the plan, all the solar panels would be owned by the DWP and installed by the utility’s workers.

In the mayor’s office, the measure was handled by Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley, who was recently tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to fill a high-level environmental post in Washington, D.C. Sutley said Thursday that she never received a copy of the outside analysis. “I heard it referred to once and never again,” she said.

Sutley said she could not respond to the assertions in the analysis because she did not know what they were based on. She also said she never asked for the document because she wasn’t sure it existed.

Councilwoman Jan Perry, who heads the Energy and Environment Committee, said Miller showed her the one-page summary of the consulting firm’s findings. Perry said she was “alarmed” by the potential effect on DWP ratepayers but did not keep the document because she thought it was confidential.

Asked why she voted to put the measure on the ballot anyway, Perry said she thought she could unearth more details about the solar program in the months leading to the election. “I felt that through the committee process, we would be able to better vet the proposal, which is what I’m doing now,” she said.

Greuel, who is also running for city controller, said she also looked at Miller’s document but concluded that the DWP had answered all the questions raised by it.

Representatives of P.A. Consulting Group did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

The findings zeroed in on the surcharge — known as the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor — that the DWP places on power bills to cover the costs of fluctuating prices, including natural gas and sources of renewable energy.

The firm warned that the surcharge, which stands at 4% annually, could triple if Measure B passes.

DWP officials said they had not received a copy of the outside analysis. But in an interview two weeks ago, Nahai said the prospect for a larger surcharge was unlikely.

“Is that within the realm of political possibility? I would say no.”

david.zahniser@latimes.com