City Hall

Wow: No fee waiver for women electrocuted at Valley crash *

magnolia-crash-cbs2.jpgThe Los Angeles City Council seems to be able to do anything it wants with city laws and rules, including routinely waiving tens of thousands of dollars in fees for community events such as parades and farmers markets that the local council office likes. But the story being given today is that the LAFD, and by extension I guess the City Council, cannot legally decline to send a bill for paramedic service to the survivors of the Good Samaritans who died at last week's street-racing crash in Valley Village. Instead, Councilman Paul Krekorian will hold a press conference Thursday afternoon at the crash scene to announce a fundraising campaign to help the families of Stacey Schreiber and Irma Zamora, and presumably any of the six injured survivors, to pay their City Hall paramedic bills.

Krekorian and the City Council raised the paramedic fee recently, to $974 for "basic life support" or $1,373 for "advanced life support services. That plus $15.75 per mile the ambulance has to drive, on top of the taxes that property owners pay for emergency services. (Though under Proposition 13, older residents who use paramedics the most may pay the lowest taxes, solely because they have owned their house a longer time than their neighbor.) In this case, the women were electrocuted at the scene, rushing to to help a stranger whose car had crashed. Exposed wires in a city light standard damaged in the crash electrified the water pooling from a broken hydrant. They didn't get their money's worth from the ride to the hospital.

It's been a while since I've checked, but I seem to recall that LAFD ambulance bills routinely go unpaid and that the city has a policy of not rigorously seeking the full amount from those who simply don't pay. How about instead of a press conference for the cameras, Krekorian quietly announces that he'll ask the full council to quash the fees — and if the council won't or can't, he could offer to pay the bills out of his office slush fund. Then delete that amount from the LAFD budget next time around.

In fact, I'd be kind of surprised if Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry and Kevin James (and maybe Rick Caruso) don't show up at Krekorian's presser checks in hand.

* Post-presser update: Krekorian announces that private donations will cover the LAFD bills. But @BobTimmermann wonders on Twitter if the family wiped out yesterday on Highland will now get three separate bills for ambulance service.

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