Southern California breaking news and trends

LAFD's response times had been inflated (report)

Mercer 17867

Frank Stoltze/KPCC

The Los Angeles Fire Department has faced cuts under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Los Angeles Fire Department officials have for years been releasing misleading data on the response times of firefighters, LAFD brass admitted to the L.A. Times Friday after mayoral candidate Austin Beutner cited incorrect numbers in a Huffington Post column about budget and staffing cuts.

It appears that NBC LA previously reported the correct numbers, but in the HuffPost column, Beutner wrote, "In 2008, Los Angeles was a leader in response time, with the LAFD arriving on the scene of a medical emergency within five minutes 86% of the time." That response time in 2008 was actually 63 or 64 percent, according to the most recent LAFD documents.

When questioned about that incorrect high number by the Times on Friday, LAFD brass said they had used a calculation that made it appear that firefighters were arriving at the scene of emergencies faster than they actually were: A former department statistician wrongly counted all responses that fell within six minutes, citing department tradition. The department's goal, based on federal guidelines, is to arrive in less than five minutes 90 percent of the time. 


Who's unhappy about the LACMA rock's arrival? Probably the people who got towed.


Grant Slater/KPCC

California Highway Patrol officers brief the moving crew shortly before they set off toward Long Beach and the next stop on the boulder's 11-day journey.

The journey of the rock destined for an art installation at the L.A. County Museum of Art has provided Southern California with 11 nights of joy and silly news stories. 

But the very high price of the rock was made a little more expensive for the dozens of people who parked their cars in the path of the rock's final stretch this morning. City News Service reports:

"Dozens of cars parked along Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown and the Mid- Wilshire area were towed overnight to make room for the behemoth. Those who had vehicles towed can expect to pay at least $259.50 to get their cars out of an city impound lot."

D'oh. The L.A. Times notes another unhappy customer, who was among the hundreds waiting to greet the rock with noisemakers and cheers. Due to a power failure, those revelers got a chance to touch the rock as a fix was prepared. But 34-year-old M.M. Green was dissatisfied: “I came a long way to touch this thing, and it felt very impersonal –- I expected more intimacy from this rock,” Green, a video artist, told the Times.


NRC requiring modifications to every U.S. nuclear power plant

san onofre nuclear power plant atomic

Jason Hickey/Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. nuclear power plants have until the end of 2016 to comply with new safety recommendations released Friday by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

Plants were ordered to begin immediately implementing the upgrades in an effort to prevent a large-scale radioactive crisis like what occurred last year at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the earthquake and tsunami.

Recommendations were laid out in a three-part plan. Two points apply to every U.S. commercial nuclear power plant, including those under construction and recently licensed new Vogtle reactors. One point only concerns a specific type of containment structure, said the NRC in a press release.

  • The first Order requires the plants to better protect safety equipment installed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and to obtain sufficient equipment to support all reactors at a given site simultaneously.
  • The second Order requires the plants to install enhanced equipment for monitoring water levels in each plant’s spent fuel pool.
  • The third Order applies only to U.S. boiling-water reactors that have “Mark I” or “Mark II” containment structures. These reactors must improve venting systems (or for the Mark II plants, install new systems) that help prevent or mitigate core damage in the event of a serious accident.


Bob Barker came on down to Echo Park for PETA headquarters opening

Pets New Year Resolutions

Photo credit: Damian Dovarganes/AP

Dec. 13, 2011: Retired game show host Bob Barker holds his 8-year-old rabbit Mr. Rabbit at his home in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Don't forget to spay or neuter your hipsters!, a certain type of cynical person might say about the reception for PETA's West Coast headquarters in Echo Park, and the Bob Barker appearance therein. Ironyception.

It is the case, however, that the longtime animal-advocate Bob Barker did come on down Thursday night for the red-carpet, grand opening event, the Eastsider LA recounts.

Nearby restaurants Mohawk Bend, Elf, and Sage Organic Vegan provided food, local celebrities walked the red carpet, and Barker -- whose $2.5 million donation helped convert the former Art Deco-style auto showroom on Sunset Boulevard into the eco/pet-friendly hub -- held court on a swanky rooftop wood deck." Welcome to Echo Park, circa 2012," the Eastsider LA aptly notes.

The new offices are bringing in 60 jobs, and will house a number of PETA's campaign, outreach and media departments.


Foul play not suspected in death of 4-year-old girl found hanging

police tape

Photo by Harvey K via Flickr Creative Commons

A 4-year-old girl, found hanging in a bedroom closet in her Westchester home on Thursday, was not a victim of foul play, authorities believe. 

Police believe the child was playing unsupervised for a brief period of time, KTLA reports, before she was found by family members and taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

LAPD detectives from the Abused Child Unit are investigating the incident. "Right now, it's an undetermined death," said LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith, notes the L.A. Times.

Family members, coached by a 911 operator, reportedly attempted CPR until emergency personnel arrived on the scene.

An autopsy is planned for Friday.