SHELTER OF DEATH
Mayor Jim Hahn has so far failed in his efforts to defuse escalating friction between city officials and animal-rights activists. Hahn last week declared city shelters should adopt a no-kill policy within five years, but Pamela Ferdin and other members of the Animal Defense League led a City Hall protest against the plan Monday, saying it covered up the city’s true purpose — to continue putting unwanted animals to death by labeling them “unadoptable.”
Just over half of the animals brought to the city’s six shelters are euthanized, according to the city Department of Animal Services. That’s down from a rate of nearly three-quarters in the last decade, but animal activists say it is not good enough. The problem with Hahn’s no-kill plan, according to activists, is that it would apply only to animals that are “adoptable.”
Last month, Ferdin served a jail term for bringing a hook, used by trainers to control elephants, to a protest against circus treatment of animals. Law-enforcement officials said it was a weapon.
SEIU Local 347, which represents city animal-services workers, has labeled some activists “militants” who copy tactics “from anti-abortion extremists” by publicizing the home addresses of city officials and holding demonstrations on their front lawns. Union chief Julie Butcher released a statement earlier this month saying solutions “can come only from public discourse that respects the life and sanctity of all life — even human.”
A DRIVING FORCE
A strike that could keep all MTA buses off the road was put on hold last week by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, who set a September 3 hearing on how to proceed. It has been a year since a contract expired between the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and mechanics, who are represented by the Amalgamated Transit Union.
Union members voted to authorize a strike date last Thursday, but Judge Davis Yaffe issued a temporary restraining order pending the hearing. An injunction already is in place barring a strike by the union representing MTA drivers, but it expires in mid-September. Meanwhile, a task force appointed by Governor Gray Davis is examining the issues that separate the union and management. The last MTA strike shut down buses for more than a month in 2000.
City Council Members Jan Perry and Bernard Parks, together with City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and U.S. Congresswomen Maxine Waters and Diane Watson, took time out from their August recesses to voice support Tuesday for efforts by downtown security guards to form a union.
Service Employees International Union Local 1877 represents janitors in most commercial buildings in Los Angeles and now is trying to organize security guards in the same offices. The union’s leaders claim that 90 percent of the 10,000 private security officers in Los Angeles are black or Latino and are paid poverty wages.
TAKE ’EM DOWN
Inspection of more than 10,000 billboards in Los Angeles is expected to begin in September in the wake of last week’s federal appeals-court ruling rejecting a First Amendment challenge by advertising giants Clear Channel Outdoor, Viacom Outdoor and National Advertising Co.
Last October, the billboard companies got an injunction against the Department of Building and Safety’s inspection program. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there was nothing unconstitutional about the city law, which imposes a $314-per-sign charge on billboard firms to fund a citywide sign inventory and enforcement action against signs that are posted illegally.
The ordinance was championed by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who was accused by critics of being in the pocket of billboard companies after he got thousands of dollars in unsolicited support in the form of billboard ads.