Here they come again.
I saw the first fireworks booths going up on Rosedale Highway (AKA: Gunpowder alley) on Monday.
They will be open for business July 1.
From then through the end of the holiday, the community will be under siege.
But this column isn’t a lamentation of the same old, same old.
It’s a call to arms, so to speak.
I’m typically overwhelmed with complaints about the “war zone” we know as 4th of July and how authorities never came when they were called, etc. etc.
While I appreciate the information, complaining to me won’t change things.
Butts in the seats.
Politicians do love contributions but they fear angry, motivated constituents even more.
That’s why the people who run nonprofits that sell fireworks have so much sway.
They. Show. Up.
What this means to you, my dear, quietly seething, fireworks-frustrated public, is that you must get involved if you ever want to see a change.
Don’t fret, though.
I’m here to give you a few tips.
We already have a clearinghouse for information, ideas and alerts to action.
A couple years ago I created the “BAN fireworks Kern County” Facebook page, which already has more than 1,000 likes so it has at least some reach.
Oh look, here’s the link: http://tinyurl.com/ybourrlj.
Next, you need to know where and how to make your voice heard.
Oh look, there’s a side box with this article filled with contact information.
Now, what to say?
I’m convinced what we really need to hit and hit hard is how our national and state representatives have totally dropped the ball.
There are virtually no enforcement efforts to keep illegal fireworks out of California and that needs to change.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any legislation at the state or federal level for us to get behind right now, according to Dennis Revell, spokesman for TNT Fireworks.
Yes, Revell talks to me, though he disagrees with my stance to ban all personal fireworks.
He does agree illegal fireworks are out of control.
“Local governments can’t withstand the burden illegal fireworks pose,” he said. “Illegal fireworks are just too costly overall. To local government, state government, which has to pay to dispose of them, they’re hurting nonprofit groups whose biggest competitor is illegal fireworks. And of course the cost of injury and fire loss.”
While there’s no legislation at the moment, Revell suggested locals support the appointment of Dennis Mathisen as state fire marshal.
He’s been confirmed by the Senate Rules Committee and will come before the full Senate shortly.
“He really wants to turn this around,” Revell said of Mathisen’s zeal to curb illegal fireworks.
If he’s appointed, Revell said, locals should hammer state representatives to make sure Mathisen has adequate funding and personnel to go after illegal fireworks.
The state used to make an effort at keeping Nevada fireworks out of California, even sending spotters to Pahrump to jot down California license plates and alert the Nye County sheriff who would escort them out of town sans fireworks.
CHP officers still try to catch drivers coming back from Nevada with illegal stuff, but they can only do so much.
Locally, I think there’s still much we can do to try and reign in the madness over the extended holiday.
There’s no reason people should be allowed to light fireworks except on the actual 4th, and then only from dusk to 11 p.m.
Currently, county rules allow people to light fireworks starting July 1 through July 4th.
The Bakersfield City Council recently restricted that by one day, so now it’s July 2 through July 4 in city limits.
The other thing I would suggest people advocate for is more free professional shows.
If people have a free show to watch, they don’t spend money on the illegal stuff.
More than 12,000 people show up for the city’s free show at the Park at Riverwalk.
If the county put on a free fireworks show in the metro Bakersfield area, I bet it would be just as well-attended.
Aside from that, document, document, document.
Get video of what goes on in your neighborhoods and send it to BAN fireworks Kern County so everyone will know how bad it is.
Hang in there, Bakersfield.
July 5th is just around the corner.