Did you know that one in every ten California drivers is now legally registered to carry Disabled Parking Placards? You know, those blue or red plastic ‘signs’ you hand from your rear view mirror when you park in a handicapped only parking space. In the City of Los Angeles, there are SIX legal placards for every meter in the city. Oh, and if you have one of those placards, you don’t have to pay when you park at a meter. Hmmmm…do you think the city might be losing revenue from parking meters? Maybe not so surprising is there are plenty of people fraudulently using those cute little placards. One lady, who was fraudulently using her mother’s card, got angry at the DMV employee who confiscated the placard and told him she didn’t think it was ‘fair’ to take it away. A male motorist spewed a tirade about meter readers even after admitting the disabled placard he was using wasn’t his. Another lady had her mother’s placard confiscated when she (the daughter) obtained free parking at a meter while going into a gym to exercise. The intent of those placards is to aid handicapped individuals with medical conditions. As a caregiver for eighty-eight year-old mother, and previously for my brother who’d had a stroke and was partially paralyzed, I can’t tell you how many times we’d go to the market or other shopping center and not be able to park in a handicapped spot because all the handicapped parking places were full. Then I’d see someone who had no visible impairment walk briskly to get in their vehicle parked in the handicapped parking space. Now, before many of you get indignant and tell me LOTS of people have medical conditions that may not be visible to the casual observer, I know that and I understand that. However, I also know from my prior experience as a police officer there are MANY MANY other people abusing the use of those cards designed to help the handicapped. If you don’t legitimately need a disabled parking placard – count your blessings. Consider the extra distance you walk to and from your car as part of your regular exercise program. Until next time, KMA 367 ONE FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT: To celebrate a very successful six months running and a very special birthday, Back of the Book Reviews bring you September Extravaganza! Join them as they celebrate with interviews, guest posts, daily giveaways and much more! Here’s the link: http://backofthebookreviews.com/contests/september-extravaganza/
I’m sure many of you are wondering what in the heck I’m talking about – snarl or sniff…and traffic tickets. I promise, after a little explanation, I’ll get to the meat of what I mean. Please be patient and continue reading.
Last week, my sister and I had to move our mother into an assisted living facility. THAT experience is a blog topic for another day. However, in making that move, we had to decide what to do with our mother’s dog, Cody. Several years ago, Mom rescued Cody from the local county animal shelter. Since Mom is an independent woman, for the most part, it was just her and Cody for most days.
In the early days, Mom was able to walk Cody herself. But as she became more frail she felt she couldn’t handle her dog. The problem was that Cody wasn’t socialized to other dogs or animals. At Mom’s assisted living location residents are allowed to live with their dogs – but only if they can be good citizens. This was a cause for concern. Mom had told us that when she used to walk Cody, other dog owners would cross the street because Cody would snarl and bark and lunge on his leash in an attempt to get to the other dogs. Obviously, this is not the behavior of a ‘model citizen’. So something had to be done.
We hired a dog trainer to teach us to socialize Cody to other animals – particularly dogs. Making a long story shorter…what Heather, (the dog trainer) told us was that Cody just didn’t know what to do when he came across another dog. He didn’t know how to behave appropriately.
Heather further explained that dogs, when they meet, introduce themselves by sniffing the hind-quarters of the other dog. If a dog meets another dog who doesn’t know what to do, often the uneducated dog ‘crowds’ the dog he’s trying to meet. This makes the other dog uneasy, and snarling barking may ensue or even a bite or a fight. Now…how does all of this relate to a traffic ticket?
When a police officer pulls you over for the purpose of issuing a citation, just like our dogs above, the officer wants to meet you. When the officer approaches your car, do you snarl and bark loudly?
“Why in the he** are you stopping ME?”
“Didn’t you see that other guy going faster than I was?”
“The light was yellow as*-hole!”
“You’re pulling me over because…(insert whatever phrase comes to mind)”
Or, do you sniff to find out more about the officer who’s coming to your car.
“Yes, officer, I have my driver’s license right here. I need to reach into my glove box to get my proof of insurance. Is that okay?”
“I’m sorry officer. I didn’t realize I was going so fast.”
“I’ve got a lot on my mind. I thought the light was yellow.”
“I’m glad you’re telling me about my burnt out headlight – otherwise I wouldn’t have known.”
While there is no guarantee that by ‘sniffing’ the officer first you’re not going to get a citation, I CAN predict if you snarl at the officer there is a much larger chance you’ll be giving your autograph to the officer on a four-copy form – a form requiring you pay an expensive fine.
When a person is employed, usually the employer has some format in place to assess the performance of the employee. For most of my career with the LAPD I received a yearly Performance Evaluation Report. A few years ago, they scrubbed the old format and came up with the Standards Based Assessment. It doesn’t matter what the department calls them – the officers just call it a rating report. When the rating reports were changed to the Standard Based Assessment, the idea was the report would more accurately document the individual officer’s performance…without any subjectivity. There were, basically, three levels of evaluation an evaluator could choose for the various categories of job performance: Needs Improvement, Meets or Sometimes Exceeds Standards, and Greatly Exceeds Standards.
But the problem is, no matter how many check boxes you put on a form, the person who is ‘checking’ those boxes is using their subjective opinion. There is a section where the rater can add comments and usually, those comments reflect the rating of the officer. Frankly, I wasn’t too concerned about my Performance Evaluations (or my Standard Based Assessments either). I worked as hard as I could and did the best job that I could – no matter what my assignment was. I hoped that my supervisors and commanding officers recognized how hard I was working, but the truth was I knew I was doing a good job and I was able to collect my paycheck without reservation. (There were people I knew who should have been paying the city <g>).
But now I’ve started this new career as an author. There isn’t anyone who will be giving me a written evaluation of my work product. Basically, I have to rely on my sales…and reviews. But for those of you not in the ‘writing arena’, you would be shocked at how few readers actually write a review for a book. Currently, I stand about tied between book reviews and fan letters I’ve received. I love to interact with my readers (so keep those e-mails coming). But I’d also like to know how to generate more reviews from people who’ve purchased and read my book.
I’m not alone. Many writers sing the same song…How do I get my readers to leave reviews? And what we mean is, if you bought your book via Amazon, leave a review on the book’s Amazon page. Same goes for Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords, or whatever retailer you purchased your book. You might also be surprised to know that authors don’t necessarily expect you to gush about their book. They’d rather have the truth than some overblown piece loaded with dozens of adjectives. Of course, if you hated the book, you can say that – but even if that’s the truth, usually, you can find at least one thing to mention that the author did well.
So, if you are mainly a reader: Do you write reviews for books you’ve read? If not, why not? Do you write fan letters to the author? If you are mainly a writer: Do you solicit reviews from readers? Do you like getting fan mail? Dumb question I know – but I have found some authors who don’t like interacting with their readers. One thing I can tell you. My work ethic hasn’t changed from one career to the other. As a writer I still work as hard as I can and do the best job I can – no matter what aspect of writing I’m doing. I hope my readers and peers recognize how hard I work, but the truth is I know I’m working hard and writing the best stories I can, so I’m able to collect my payment without reservation. Until next time, KMA367
The 4th of July is coming next week and I want to be sure a lot of people see my blog this week so they can respond to my call for action. My blog today deals with some of our military veterans.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you the horrors of war take a toll on our men and women who proudly serve our country in battle. Some of our brave heros are plagued with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) once they’ve left the battleground.
Los Angeles-based filmmaker and philanthropist Charlie Annenberg Weingarten founded DogBlessYou.org, an internet campaign aimed at helping veterans get service dogs who help soldiers deal with their affliction. The specially-trained service dog listens and looks for any signs of distress and helps their owner cope with their particular symptoms of the condition.
What Weingarten has done is create a Facebook page called Dog Bless You. For every 5,000 ‘likes’ on the Facebook page, a service dog will be donated to a veteran in need.
Weingarten says he believes the campaign will help spread patriotism and give injured veterans a much-needed companion.
“It’s interesting because the way we deal with PTSD is strictly on a medical basis. But really what’s missing is love and belonging,” Weingarten said.
So, here’s my call for action:
I want you to go to the Dog Bless You Facebook page and ‘like’ the page. Let’s see if we can get our veterans a couple of new dogs in honor of their service to our country and in honor of our upcoming 4th of July holiday. It’s a win-win! Here’s the link:
Today is Memorial Day. It’s a day to honor those brave U.S. Service Members who died while in the military service. Unfortunately, in recent years, the number of military men and women we commemorate has grown significantly. As you might imagine, with those losses, there’s been an increase in military funerals here in the United States. Many of us have seen news clips depicting the honor guard, the twenty-one gun salute, and the desolate sound of TAPS being played by a lone bugler.
It was only by chance that I happened to see a televison story that sparked this blog. I hope you’ll continue reading and spread the word. Did you know that there are approximately twenty-two million Veterans in the United States? And since the year 2000, due to legislation passed by Congress, those Veterans are guaranteed the right to have at least two uniformed servicemen, a flag ceremony, and the playing of TAPS at their funeral. But guess what? There aren’t enough buglers to play TAPS, so many of our valiant Veterans have been laid to rest with TAPS being played on a CD player.
A man named Tom Day resolved a ‘canned’ version of TAPS for our Veterans wasn’t good enough. Day founded Bugles Across America (BAA) with the goal of providing TAPS be played at every Veteran’s funeral. A Veteran himself, Day felt every Vet deserved the honor of a live bugler. And Day has turned his vision into reality. BAA now has over 7300 bugler volunteers located in all 50 states and even some overseas. But with a 1/2 million (or more) Veterans expected to pass away every year for the next 7 years, BAA is always looking for volunteers. BAA currently appears at an average of 2500 military funerals a month.
If you’d like to learn more, or make a donation to this honorable group of volunteers please visit http://www.buglesacrossamerica.org/ Doesn’t every Veteran deserve a final salute? Until next time, KMA367
Last week I told you how ashamed I was that no one had turned in the suspects in the Bryan Stow beating that occurred at Dodger Stadium on opening day back in March. Stow was beaten because he was a Giant’s fan wearing his team’s jersey. I’m proud to say that yesterday, LAPD officers made an arrest of one of the suspects.
Earlier in the week, the monetary reward that was offered had been increased from $100,000 to $200,000, so I’m not too surprised a viable tip came in. However, the tip didn’t come from a citizen who ‘suddenly’ realized his next-door neighbor resembled a suspect on one of the many billboards scattered through the City of Los Angeles. Nope, the tip came from a parole agent. The defendant (now that he’s been arrested he goes from being a suspect to defendant) had recently been released from prison. The parole agent noticed the gang member defendant was obtaining numerous tattoos over old ones already on his neck – as if he was trying to hide something. The parole agent also noticed the defendant resembled the composite drawing of the suspect. Good observations on the part of the parole agent. I don’t know for sure, but doubt he’ll be able to collect the reward. I still shake my head that no citizen came forward prior to the clue provided by a member of the law enforcement community.
But there are still two suspects out there. The other loser who beat Bryan Stow is still walking the streets along with the female who drove the getaway car. I’m betting there is still reward money available – but probably not for long. Once LAPD gets one suspect in custody the other perpetrators are usually not far behind.
(Kathy leans back and hums the theme song from the TV show COPS)
On side note: Fox television has given the axe to the television show America’s Most Wanted. There is a Facebook page to try to save the show. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Americas-Most-Wanted/160575763985016?sk=wallI think AMW’s record stands by itself. 1152 fugitives captured. Seventeen of those were on the FBI’s Most Wanted list. 50 children recovered. The fans have saved the show once before and maybe it can be done again. If you think the show has done good work over the years, go ‘Like’ the page. AMW needs everyone’s support.
I was born and raised in the Los Angeles area and have enjoyed the benefits to living in a large city that much of the world admires, and yes, sometimes envies. It’s a standard joke during the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day that, after the world sees the gorgeous weather we experience in the middle of winter, the population in Southern California rises. While weather is a big part of the appeal of the City of Angeles, it’s not the only draw. There aren’t too many places where you can get up and surf in the morning and go snow-skiing in the afternoon. There’s just so much to do in the Los Angeles area…including to going to a Dodger’s game.
Many people went to opening day at Dodger Stadium. I wasn’t there and really, I hadn’t paid too much attention to the fact other than to acknowledge it was opening day and the Dodgers were playing the Giants.
It was the next day I heard the news about the Giant’s fan from San Francisco, Bryan Stow. I could tell from the news reports; this visitor to our city had gotten a brutal beating by a couple of thugs who’d also attended the Dodger game – apparently all because he was wearing clothing indicating he was a Giants fan.
In reading an account of the incident from the point of view of Bryan Stow’s friend, Corey Maciel, who was with Bryan at the time of the beating, the Giant fans had an initial skirmish with the attackers, but ignored that incident and continued walking to their car. A second attack from the suspects had Bryan on the ground unconscious. No matter how you spin this, the situation is ugly. These adultswere at a baseball game – America’s favorite pastime.
The media covered the story heavily and has done so, when warranted, since the attack. Bryan, up until last week was in a drug induced coma. Now he’s ‘just’ in a coma. There have been small signs of improvement that have spawned hope Bryan will awaken from his loss of consciousness. In fact, he’s going to be transported home to San Francisco today to a hospital closer to his home. This is good news. But…
The Bryan’s recovery is not a guaranteed outcome. In fact, I heard a radio interview from one of his doctors who stated he (the doctor) has been very up front with Bryan’s family about his prognosis. And from the sound of it, the doctor felt improvement would be a tough and uphill battle.
This incident is a black mark on the city of Los Angeles. Oh, there have been other, maybe even bigger, events that have sullied the reputation of this city. But…in the case of the two hoodlums who committed this crime, they have made other people unwillingly a part of this ugly story. You see, there are reports the suspects got away in a vehicle being driven by a female. In addition there was also a ten year-old boy in the vehicle as well. Can you imagine the turmoil that child is going through keeping such a big secret? But those two additional folks aren’t the only ones involved.
And this is why I’m ashamed.
I’m sure there were other people who observed the altercation between the parties involved. Maybe they didn’t see the whole fight. Maybe they saw the aftermath. There are probably people who whipped out their cell phones and captured video of all or part of the incident. To those people I say, ‘You need to talk to the police. You may not even realize you have a key piece of information to aid in the investigation.’
Maybe someone sat behind some guys who kind of resemble the faces in the composite sketches. Maybe someone at the game took photos of their friends or family, but also captured a couple of guys in the background who fit the description of the suspects.
There are people in Los Angeles, right now, who can probably identify the suspects – and/or provide vital information to the police – and yet they aren’t stepping forward. There is a $100,000 reward being offered for information leading to the arrest of the suspects. And the fact those people, for whatever reason, aren’t coming forward is inexcusable…and makes me ashamed.
If you have information, you can contact Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS
If you’ve seen or heard the news this past week, no doubt you’ve heard the many stories talking about Air Traffic Controllers falling asleep on the job. These stories are usually related in tones of ‘gottcha’…and it makes me a little bit uncomfortable.
Now, I’m not taking a position that it’s okay for anyone who is responsible for other people’s lives to put those folks in any type of danger. But the current highlighting of the Air Traffic Controller problem reminds me very much of media frenzy directed at the LAPD whenever a serious allegation of misconduct is claimed against a police officer. It’s kind of like everyone jumps on the bandwagon and anyone who wears the badge, or in the case of Air Traffic Controllers, anyone who talks to pilots during landing, is guilty. The whole profession must carry the blame/shame for a few.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the situation isn’t serious – it’s deadly serious (no pun intended). But I suspect that Air Traffic Controllers have been falling asleep on duty for years. We’re only hearing about it now. However, there is one aspect of the story that I’ve heard only once from the media – and it’s an important detail.
Did you know Air Traffic Controllers work varied shifts during a month? In other words, they could be working the day shift on Monday, the night shift on Tuesday, and the graveyard shift on Wednesday. Thursday, they might work the night shift, and Friday they might work graveyard again. No wonder these guys and girls are tired! That’s a crazy schedule and not one I’d want to do when lives are on the line. (I’m not trying to make myself out to be an expert on Air Traffic Controller schedules; this is what I heard earlier in the week on the news.) Partner that with one of the most stressful jobs out there, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
If the Federal Aviation Administration is looking for a way of ‘fixing’ the problem, that’s the first thing I’d change. Get the Air Traffic Controllers on a regular schedule for a minimum of three months. I couldn’t stay awake if my sleep pattern was constantly being shifted.
What do you think? Does this discovery of Air Traffic Controllers sleeping on the job make you worried and/or less likely to fly?
The other day, on one of my writer’s loops, someone asked a question about ‘bad cops’. In fact, they were asking about LAPD officers who ‘go bad’. They weren’t asking about a true incident; they were asking in reference to a story idea. I offered my two cents to the discussion, but the question and comments offered by my fellow writers stayed with me.
Why is there such interest in cops who ‘go to the dark side’? Every profession has bad apples, but when it comes to cops, there seems to be a morose fascination. Living in L.A., I can tell you the media LOVES a bad cop story. And, they will air that story over and over again.
Unfortunately when those few people who’ve been sworn ‘to protect and to serve’ fall from grace, it rubs off on anyone who wears the badge. You don’t even have to work for the same police agency to get painted with the same wide brush.
But what you should know about ‘bad cops’ is that almost all officers who graduate from the police academy, aren’t thinking, ‘I can’t wait to get out of the academy so I can start doing…’ - fill in the blank. No, those young officers are fired up about doing their job and doing it well.
When a cop ‘goes rogue’ (as the media likes to say), it’s for the same reasons a doctor, lawyer, mechanic, or burger-flipper crosses the line. It could be greed, it might be revenge, I wouldn’t rule out pride, fear, lust or addiction – and these are just examples off the top of my head.
But what makes it so shocking – at least to me – is that the errant police officer has violated the trust of the people he or she has sworn to protect, while compromising his/her own personal integrity. And it’s my opinion that’s what makes a ‘bad cop’ such a newsworthy/shocking event.
Society expects, and rightfully so, their police officers would do their jobs professionally, with dedication, with integrity, without prejudice and to the best of their ability. The same way society expects a doctor to not perform surgery while high, or an attorney to siphon funds from a client’s bank account, or a mechanic to say he replaced a vehicle’s brakes…but he didn’t, or the burger-flipper to spit in food.
The bad news is there can be, and there are, rogue employees in any profession. The good news is they are generally few and far between, and most of the time they’re caught, exposed and punished. Unfortunately, no matter what the profession, we’re all losers when integrity is forfeited and when we find out about it, we want every last detail.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me every time I turn on the television, there is news about a new disaster somewhere in the world. Thankfully, many people are generous about opening their hearts and their wallets to aid in the relief and recovery efforts at home and in foreign lands.
However, there are also many unscrupulous people who prey upon those wanting to help in a time of crisis. These crooks, unfortunately, often get most active and aggressive immediately after tragedy strikes.
I’ve compiled a list charity fraud prevention tips from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission and lookstoogoodtobetrue.com. While many of these tips are common sense and you’ve seen them a hundred times, there are a few guidelines that may be new to you. So, here we go: Do not be pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use such tactics.
Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same as those of reputable charities.
Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
Be wary of charities that spring up overnight in connection with current events or natural disasters. They may make a compelling case for your money, but as a practical matter, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected areas or people.
Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services. Most legitimate charities websites end in .org rather than .com.
Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as members of charitable organizations or officials asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
Trust your gut — and check your records if you have any doubt about whether you’ve made a pledge or a contribution. Callers may try to trick you by thanking you for a pledge you didn’t make. If you don’t remember making the donation or don’t have a record of your pledge, resist the pressure to give.
Be wary of charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your donation immediately.
Do not respond to any unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links contained within those messages because they may contain computer viruses.
Rather than follow a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming the group’s existence and its nonprofit status.
Ask for written information about the charity, including the name, address, and telephone number. A legitimate charity or fundraiser will send you information about the charity’s mission, how your donation will be used, and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.
Call the charity. Find out if the organization is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name. If not, you may be dealing with a scam artist.
Know the difference between “tax exempt” and “tax deductible.” Tax exempt means the organization doesn’t have to pay taxes. Tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution on your federal income tax return. Even if an organization is tax exempt, your contribution may not be tax deductible. If a tax deduction is important to you, ask for a receipt showing the amount of your contribution and stating that it is tax deductible.
Look twice at organizations that use meaningless terms to suggest they are tax exempt charities. For example, the fact that an organization has a “tax I.D. number” doesn’t mean it is a charity; every nonprofit and for-profit organization must have a tax I.D. number. And an invoice that tells you to “keep this receipt for your records” doesn’t mean that your donation is tax deductible or that the organization is tax exempt.
For additional information you can visit these websites as well.