Friday, June 17, 2022

City to fight crime with automatic license plate readers

The city council has directed city staff to go forward with a plan to deploy automated license plate cameras at key locations throughout the city to assist deputies to detect and locate vehicles that are wanted or have been reported stolen or used during the commission of a crime.

The council approved a proposal Tuesday evening by a 3 to 1 vote to place ten cameras at locations throughout the city selected by the La Mirada Public Safety unit and the Crime Analyst at Norwalk Station after determining that they would be most effective detecting the passing of stolen and wanted vehicles in real time as well as record the license plates and vehicle images for later investigations of serious crimes.

The cameras are not used in any way to enforce traffic laws.  

The system comes at a cost of just over $20,800 per year for five years and is compatible with one already in place at the sheriff's department.

When a camera detects a vehicle that is wanted in a felony crime, stolen, or connected to a missing person the vehicle information, image, and location is immediately relayed to dispatchers and the computer screens into patrol vehicles. When available a sheriff's helicopter is also dispatched to assist in the search.

Such a system will be helpful into investigations such as shootings, robberies, and catalytic converter thefts where the information recorded by the system can help detectives solve cases that now go unresolved.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Analysis and an Endorsement for the District 2 Seat: Integrity, Community Service, and showing up counts

Residents of District 2 in the southeast section of La Mirada are selecting a council member for a four-year term in what many view as a referendum on Andrew Sarega, who is seeking a third term despite stating that he supports term limits.

During a failed 2018 campaign for an Orange County congressional seat that did not represent La Mirada, Sarega told voters in his platform statement that he would not run in 2022 for council because if he were unable to fulfill promises he made to voters in eight years "what are the chances I would do it in 30 years when energy and motivation are low?"

Looking to unseat Sarega are David Constantine who lists among his many accomplishments serving as president of the Kiwanis of La Mirada and has been one of the most active members of the community with local PTA's, and former school board trustee Chris Pflanzer who has. Both have extensive histories of service to the community and when it counts they are there for La Mirada. Sarega? Well, he is a good candidate to be featured on a milk carton.

Yes, June 7th is fast approaching and if it's election season you can count on a new round of election signs being vandalized and stolen and a rant by the elder Satega, John will get him ejected from a city council meeting, you can also bet the farm that controversy will swirl around one of the Sarega's.

In 2013 Andrew was going to remake City Hall, out with the 'Good ol' Boys. In 2015 his father also ran for a seat on the council. 2017 was a scandal involving mailers that were sent to voters making vicious attacks on Andrew's opponent Pauline Deal and John Lewis who was running against Tony Aiello of the La Mirada Blog a friend of Andrew's and last election John Sarega, Jackie Fowler, a Sarega proxy running against Steve De Ruse and members of her family attempted to engage De Ruse in a shouting match inside council chambers to bring a quick adjournment to an already completed meeting.

For the record, both Sarega and Aiello have stated they had no involvement in the mailer fiasco and it happened to be a strange coincidence the mailers were printed and sent out by the same obscure printer in Texas.

In deciding which candidate is best suited for public office there are a number of factors to consider including community involvement and interaction, their platform, and ability to put it into motion, and of the utmost importance is integrity.

Andrew and John Sarega reside in the same home and have their personal interests very much intertwined so please bear with me. 

In 2003 John Sarega operated a smog inspection business on Rosecrans Avenue in Santa Fe Springs and had his right to ever operate a repair business again revoked by the state Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) the following year after a series of criminal convictions for engaging in a scheme called clean piping.

Clean piping occurs when a shop hooks up smog inspection equipment to a vehicle that runs 'clean' and will pass a smog inspection then entering the VIN number into DMV records for a car that runs 'dirty' and will not pass inspection in order to issue a passing smog certificate for the vehicle.

In 2011 both Sarega's formed RRK Motors and were issued a DMV license to operate an auto dealership which eventually moved operations to a location on Valley View Avenue. In 2016 investigators from the agency that regulates repair facilities BAR issued a citation to Andrew Sarega of RRK Motors for operating an unlicensed repair shop while a seated member of the city council and just months removed from being a Newport Beach police officer.

Several visits in 2019 by La Mirada News to the RRK Motors business found John Sarega operating an unlicensed body repair shop with multiple employees after hours and on weekends in what appeared an attempt to avoid detection by BAR investigators. 

During the same time period, the DMV license that allowed RRK Motors to operate had expired while four of the vehicles driven by members of the Sarega family outfitted with dealer plates continued to be driven instead of registering the vehicles and paying fees through DMV. When informed of this fact John Sarega moved to see that their DMV license was brought back into compliance. 

RRK Motors appears to no longer be in business. Its offices have been shuttered and all the wrecked and used vehicles for sale have been removed and the state suspended its right to operate as a corporation in 2020.  The RRK DMV license has expired yet vehicles that still have the registration fee dodging dealer plates attached and an Orange Ford Mustang driven by the councilman himself with Oregon license plates can be found at the Sarega home.

Andrew Sarega has failed to address his high absentee rate, lack of community participation nor why he is running for a third term despite proclaiming earlier that he favored term limits. 

Sarega is running on a platform that pushes a plan for the city to replace all the privately-owned block walls which appear to be in a state of disrepair in many places with new uniform walls at taxpayer expense. A city report on such a proposal prepared for the council came with a hefty price tag when adjusted for inflation nears $200 Million. This is more money than is spent in the city on law enforcement and fire and rescue services in La Mirada over a ten-year period. The city will need to purchase a printing press to print the money to pay for this proposal.

Both David Constantine and Chris Pflanzer are both good candidates and would serve the city well if elected to the city council. La Mirada News prefers David Constantine because he has put forward in a clear and distinct platform a series of goals that center on public safety and the safety and development of the youth of La Mirada that the city budget can accommodate.

La Mirada News endorses David Constantine on June 7th for the District 2 city council seat.