Friday, May 25, 2007


Yesterday afternoon, at around 3:30 p.m., L.A. County Fire Fighters received a call for help from a fellow County employee at Ken Malloy Park in Harbor City. In a small cove at the edge of Lake Machado, there he was.

Reggie the Alligator had been found!

With LA city officials already conveniently on hand at the park for a 3 p.m. "strategy reassessment meeting" regarding the celebrated gator, Jon Murki, chief of the city's Recreation and Parks Department, and City Councilwoman Janice Hahn were all smiles as the two year drama involving the park's most famous temporary resident came to a sudden, and well-publicized, ending.

"We were talking about strategies for catching him when somebody called and said, 'He's out of the lake'."

"It was an unbelievable day - and at the end of the day it was city of L.A. employees who caught him, not alligator wranglers from somewhere else," Hahn said. "Who said we don't do gators?"

But before Reggie could be strapped to a gurney and whisked away to the Los Angeles Zoo, with news vans and helicopters in tow, question were already being asked by some whether this really was, in fact, the Reggie.

The size of this alligator is somewhat larger than Reggie, and there would not have been enough time for Reggie to grow to that size," said Ed Boks, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services. When asked who might be skeptical about the alligator's identity, Boks answered, "A number of experts."

"Maybe instead of Reggie One, this is Reggie Two."

Boks' staff at Animal Services was not involved in the apprehension of the reptile.

Gregory Randall, a department wildlife specialist, offered this: "It's not like Reggie was tagged. There's no way to prove definitely that this is the same Reggie."

To quote one of those covering the story for television, Nischelle Turner of Fox 11 News, "Unless he was wearing a name tag that says, 'Hello, my name is Reggie', we'll never really know."

The question of the animal's identity was not in question for the sister of former L.A. Mayor Jim Hahn.

"He looks like Reggie to me," councilwoman Janice Hahn said. "We were petting him, talking to him... I feel like I know him because I've invested a lot of time and energy in him." Just two weeks ago, when asked if she could confirm the identity of the animal as Reggie, Hahn told the L.A. Daily News, "I don't know how we'll ever know."

No word on whether the councilwoman will be asked to confirm the creature's identity by picking Reggie out of a line-up at the L.A. Zoo.

As recently as last week, plans were still in the works to bring associates of the late Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter", to capture Reggie, after multiple attempts have failed to bring results during the last two years. The cost to the county is almost $200,000, not including the cost to prosecute the two men accused in 2005 of dumping Reggie in Lake Machado in the first place, former LAPD Officer Todd Natow and Anthony Brewer, both residents of nearby San Pedro.

Now, while in the middle of a meeting staged in the same park that Reggie has called home for two years, and with costs mounting by the day, the capture of "Reggie" had the feeling of something being staged.

It's curious how, just one day before a busy Memorial Day Weekend was to begin, the capture of "Reggie" went off without a hitch.

Kevin Regan, Assistant General Manager for the city's parks department, said he went to the lake last Sunday and devised a plan to trap the reptile.

"I went down there and found the area he was coming through," Regan said. "All of the vegetation was matted down, and I found this one pathway that it seemed like he was using."

Monday, Regan built a chain-link enclosure with a swinging door. On Thursday, that door was slammed shut with "Reggie" trapped inside.

Mission accomplished, right?

Parks Chief Murki put it this way: "We knew with the weather heating up.. that this could happen and, in fact, it happened real quick."

Real quick.

So with tongue loosely in-cheek, and with lawn chair opened on the shores of Lake Machado, I'll leave you with a quote by a city official from a classic film about civic responsibility, the public's right to know, and holiday fun in the sun.

"I'm pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But as you see, it's a beautiful day, the beaches are open, and people are having a wonderful time. 'Amity', as you know, means 'friendship'". - Mayor Harry Vaughn, Jaws.

And when the Fourth of July rolls around, remember...

I'm rooting for Reggie.

Copyright © 2007 Bill Friday

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Spanning the Globe: All the News That...


Mrs. Tzipi Livni (that's right, Mrs.), Israeli foreign minister, is one step away from becoming only the second female Prime Minister in the country's history. Livni, 48, appears to be next in line for the job should current Prime Minister Ehud Olmert resign.

On Wednesday, a poll of Israeli adults in the daily, Maariv, showed that 73 percent of those who responded believed that Olmert should step down.

Livni, who has two sons, ages 19 and 17, has risen relatively quickly to power - first within the Likud Party as a protege of Ariel Sharon, and currently in Kadima, the party set up by Sharon in the fall of 2005.

A former Mossad agent, Tzipi Livni held a classified post within Israeli intelligence, following her graduation from Bar-Ilan University school of law.

Though details of Livni's personal life have been kept just that, personal, it is believed that Livni's rise to the heights of power in the Knesset had nothing to do with a wealthy husband or a desire on her part to find a hobby after the kids were grown.


Eli Lilly and Co., manufacturer of Prozac, and Pfizer Inc., manufacturer of Zoloft, said they would comply with the FDA's request, and begin labelling the two anti-depressant products as a potential cause of suicidal tendencies in consumers age 18 to 24.

Antidepressants are already believed to cause increased risks for those under 18.

A statement issued by Eli Lilly read, "We believe this step will help insure that millions of people with depression... can make informed treatment decisions while minimizing the fear and stigma associated with depression."

Shreya Pudlo, a Pfizer spokesperson, took her statements in a different direction.

"There is no established causal link between Zoloft and suicide in adults, young adults or children."

According to Dr. Thomas Laughren, for every 1,000 patients 18 to 24 treated with antidepressants, the FDA expects that an additional five patients can expect to experience suicidal thoughts or suicidal behavior. According to Laughren, who oversees psychiatric drugs for the FDA, these studies were conducted with 11 different antidepressants on more than 77,000 patients.

According to the ads, depression hurts. And, apparently, anti-depression kills.

And in other chemical treatment news...


Britney Spears will perform the third in a series of "comeback" concerts tonight at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. Spears, who's last public concert appearance was nearly three years ago, kicked off her "comeback" Tuesday night with a fifteen minute show at the San Diego House of Blues. The following night, the 25-year-old Spears (Thank God she's no longer in that dangerous 18 to 24 demographic!) played the chain's Anaheim location.

The Tuesday gig was advertised as a show by "The M&M's". No indication was given whether the lap dance given to one of the San Diego patrons will be an ongoing feature of Spears' "comeback" tour.

Last stop...


An plain-clothed Manhattan Beach police officer was struck by a motorist as he observed the driving habits of parents at an elementary school in the city.

"We've seen motorists driving too fast, driving on the wrong side of the road at times," according to Manhattan Beach PD Lt. Derrick Abell. "One motorist drove on the wrong side of the road and hit one of our officers."

Other drivers were observed double-parking, leaving vehicles with the engine running for minutes at a time to pick up students, and even making, "offensive gestures to other more patient, law abiding drivers," Abell said.

"People are not paying attention to the rules of the road. The Manhattan Beach Police Department places a high priority on keeping our children safe."

The City of Manhattan Beach is one of the wealthiest cities in the state of California, with a 2006 average household income of just under $123,000.

In a related statistic, the city's schools rank 5th in state academic performance standards.

It's great to know the children of Manhattan Beach are just as driven as their parents.

Copyright © 2007 Bill Friday