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October 3, 2007
The big snow (or fire) job
LAAG feels sorry for the city of Pacifica. If they are anything like Lakewood they don't stand a chance against the "smoke and fire" [our phrase for "safe and sane"] peddlers. The vast PR machine of the fireworks industry has lots of money and people as this is a very profitable industry. Sort of like the pharmaceutical industry lobby. The smoke and fire peddlers basically have taken over the state fire Marshall's office.
Our LAAG site is replete with statistics from the fire dept themselves showing that cities that allow "legal" fireworks have a greater problem with illegal firework damage and likely, illegal use. This is likely due to legal fireworks creating a "permissive" environment for other mayhem and illegal firework use and also creating a one upsmanship situation ("our illegal fireworks are better than your legal ones). The legal fireworks also help to mask illegal use. And of course there is always "illegal" use of "legal" fireworks (ie modifying them so they explode or shoot in the air) This is the way legal fireworks start fires.
The marketing guru for one of the smoke and fire peddlers notes that the problem with firework use has gotten worse in the last 10 years. That is likely due to the fact that sports clubs and fraternal benefit societies have not become addicted to selling smoke and fire and that the problem has become acute in the last 10 years as the fireworks companies see linking with these organizations as a way to entrench themselves and use the clubs fund raising mantra as impenetrable political cover. It really is like getting addicted to selling drugs. The money is great and the clubs are conned into the notion that there is nothing else out there that can compete fundraising wise. These organizations have been drawn into the same trap as the medical marijuana "clinics". Yeah were selling pot to help sick people. Right. Well at least 5% of their customers are sick.
The smoke and fire peddlers have burrowed into Sacramento politics like termites and tried to stir up some watered down increased penalty legislation which again is just political cover. The penalties are not the issue. The cases never get to the penalty stage as enforcement is impossible. Deterrence is based on the likelihood of getting caught and the likelihood of getting convicted. And right now those percentages benefit the offenders due to the nature of the laws and difficulty of enforcement. Law enforcement benefits from all this increased enforcement with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on overtime. What is so ironic is that the the money spent on over time is likely greater than the small percentage of money the clubs make on the fireworks that cause the overtime. The city would be better off pay the overtime money to the clubs.
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